It has been almost three months since national bowling champion Nataša Pirc Musar took over as president of the republic from Borut Pahor. And while madam president has her work cut of for her, the ex-prez is finding it hard to adjust to his new role. That is not to say he doesn’t keep busy. He spends his time auctioning off his honey-wagon for charity and raising staggering amounts of money. But also pulling pitiful influencer-type stunts on Insta.
One thing that he most decidedly is not doing, is moving to an influential international position. No matter how much he might want that. Which makes this lull in the life and times of Borut Pahor the perfect opportunity to take a look at the legacy of the second-to-last member of the original cast of Muddy Hollows politicians.
In what was not an entirely expected turn of events, the parliament yesterday unanimously adopted the committee report on the TEŠ 6 (Tower Six of Šoštanj coal power plant) corruption case. In addition, the parliament also voted to approve a virtually unprecedented move to report to the police the suspicion of gross negligence in execution of public office, a criminal offence carrying up to three-year prison sentence (Article 258 of the Penal Code).
TEŠ 6 (photo by yours truly)
The report concludes that the whole project was tailored to the needs of the coal lobby with specific MPs acting as stooges and pushing its agenda. The document blames every government from 2004 until 2012 for being needlessly careless and allowing the project to balloon and eventually derail. But while there is plenty of blame to go around, the report singles out and pins the largest share of the blame on then-PM Borut Pahor, his finance minister Franci Križanič and economy minister Matej Lahovnik for either actively looking the other way (Pahor) or even facilitating corruption (Križanič, Lahovnik) when it was already obvious the whole thing was going tits-up but disaster could still have been prevented.
Friday last the National Assemblyadopted an interim report by the parliamentary committee on TEŠ 6 coal power plant in Šoštanj. And it is a bit of a bombshell. Namely, the report deals with procurement procedures in the project which ballooned from an estimated EUR 600 million to almost 1.4 billion and states that the contract to build TEŠ 6 should have been offered via public tender and that active steps were taken to prevent that from happening, thus keeping the project non-transparent and a fertile ground for corruption.
However, unlike most committee reports of the kind, this one goes further and actually names names. The principal enablers of the TEŠ 6 fiasco according to the report were: prime minister (now president) Borut Pahor, prime minister (now MP and leader of the largest opposition party) Janez Janša and ministers of finance and economy in both governments: the late Andrej Bajuk and Andrej Vizjak in Janša’s administration as well as Franci Križanič and Matej Lahovnik in Pahor’s government. The kicker? The parliament adopted the report with a nearly 2/3 majority (59 votes out of 90), with no-none voting against.
Vacation, as per von Clausewitz, is a continuation of stress by other means. And while pengovsky planned to post extensively during the vacay it turned out that another von (Moltke, in this case) was right when he observed that no plan survives the initial contact with the enemy. Which makes one wonder just what exactly President Borut Pahor’s plan was yesterday when he faced off with former coalition partner and former leader of now-defunct Zares party Gregor Golobič as they both testified in front of the parliamentary committee investigating the clusterfuck that is the TEŠ 6 power plant in Šoštanj.
Gregor Golobič and Borut Pahor (right) (source: RTVSLO)
Now, sitting presidents in Slovenia don’t often get called to testify in parliamentary investigations. In fact, the last one to have done so was Milan Kučan, testifying in 1995 on the circumstances on the JBTZ affair in 1988, one of the key events in emergence of multi-party democracy in Slovenia and its drive for independence. Additionally, this was – by pengovsky’s admittedly perfunctory count – the very first instance of a sitting Slovenian president facing off with a contradicting witness. This alone makes yesterday’s a truly remarkable event. Then there’s the fact that it was Golobič vs. Pahor, a former and a current political heavy-weight respectively who used to bat for more or less the same team as coalition partners in Pahor’s 2008-2011 government (later brought down by Golobič for reasons including but not limited to TEŠ 6). And secondly – or thirdly, for those keeping count – the mere fact that the showdown at OK TEŠ 6 took place less than two months before the first round of presidential elections makes this a rather extraordinary occurrence. Continue reading President Pahor Mounts a Reaganesque Defence in TEŠ 6 Investigation