The election campaign in Slovenia ends today. Latest polls suggest that Miro Cerar‘s SMC is still poised to take the relative majority of the vote but that Janša’s SDS is closing the gap and there are indications that an eleventh hour change at the top spot in theoretically possible.
Former Slovenian ambassador to Australia Milan Balažic (source)
However, a fierce battle for votes down the ladder is taking place. Most notably, DeSUS‘ third spot looks slightly less secure and Karl “Funny Man” Erjavec apparently knows that as he was somewhat nervous and feisty during the last couple of TV debates.
Interactive chart of all polls averaged. Note rise of SD and SDS
Whether or not the SD is gaining against their nominal coalition partner DeSUS on the account of the latest diplomatic scandal is debatable, but what a scandal it is 🙂
I’ve got some prime swampland to sell you in Florida
Weeks ago, Erjavec in his role as foreign minister recalled Slovenian ambassador to Australia Milan Balažic for breach of protocol and “losing the trust of Slovenian diaspora in host country”. Apparently, Balažic invited to an embassy event one Nichloas Oman, a known arms dealer and an overall shady character who is a citizen of Slovenia, Australia and Liberia. Oman has served a six-year prison sentence in Australia for child-abuse in Liberia and Thailand and is on Australian sex-offenders list.
However, Balažic, upon returning to Slovenia, told a different story. In a nutshell, Oman was willing to give away a piece of land in Bosnia which was supposedly oil-rich in exchange for a Slovenian passport. Smell a rat
According to Balažic, Oman used his brother as an intermediary to contact then-leader of Social Democrats Igor Lukšič, who then emailed Balažic asking if he was willing to “investigate further”, for Oman claimed that the whole thing was worth about two billion dollars. Two billion? Email? This is starting to look like a Nigerian e-mail scam…
Furthermore, Balažic claims he was acting under instructions from entire top-level echelon of Slovenian diplomacy, saying that President Pahor, PM Bratušek and FM Erjavec were all in the loop and that Slovenian intelligence SOVA was investigating the matter as well. Not a bad start to a Robert Ludlum novel, mind you.
Obviously, there was no oil under that particular land. And even if there was, it’s hardly likely Bosnia (specifically, Republika Srpska) would grant drilling rights to a Slovenian entity. Even more, since Oman is a Slovenian citizen and – despite his child-abuse status in Australia – there is no warrant for his arrest anywhere in the EU, he could have easily obtained a Slovenian passport regardless.
But the story was apparently appealing enough for Lukšič and Balažic to fall for the classic “I’ve got some prime swampland to sell you in Florida” trick.
Dipping in the same pool of votes
Anyway, things start to fall apart rapidly from this point on. The Prez’s office categorically denies the charges, PM Bratušek says Lukšič was not a cabinet member, that the issue was never on the official agenda and that when Lukšič did bring it up, she refused to discuss it at all. It was only Karl Erjavec who said he wasn’t aware of Balažic’s activities. The implication being that Erjavec doesn’t know what’s going on in front of his nose. Which is not really a compliment for a foreign minister. Or a leader of a party which happens to be dipping in the same pool of voters as SD does.
This, of course, provided there’s more to the whole episode than just a disgraced ambassador trying to save his neck. But since Balažic also included rumours about Janša’s clinic in Australia (a popular lef-wing fiction story where Janša supposedly stuck all of his illicit earnings into a clinic down-under to be ran by his doctor-wife) one can sooner be worried about former diplomat’s
health grip on reality.
But, in the end, it’s Bosnia which gets fucked by a Slovenian arms dealer. Again.