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Meeting with Maribor's Mayor Kangler

Maribor, 06/08/2007  |  press release, statement

Click to enlargeThe President of the Slovenia, Dr Janez Drnovšek, met today with the Mayor of the City of Maribor, Franc Kangler, at the city's Municipality Building. The Mayor acquainted the President with his views on the development of the second largest city in the country as well as with the current and future solutions for unresolved issues. During his conversation with President Drnovšek, Mayor Kangler pointed in particular to the solution for the longstanding problem of waste disposal in Dogoše, the animal rescue centre, intensified cooperation with the University and Archdiocese of Maribor, and reconstruction of the city's squares in order to enhance the appeal of its cultural landscape. Revival of Maribor Airport and the resulting more intensive development of tourism in the city and its surroundings will certainly contribute to the improvement of the economic condition of the city.

Click to enlargeThe Slovenian President, Dr Janez Drnovšek, was glad to hear about the positive changes in the city and expressed his belief that the municipal government was working in the right direction.

After the talks, President Drnovšek, accompanied by Mayor Kangler, visited the bio-food market in Trg svobode square and the organic food market in Glavni trg square.

On the occasion of his visit, President Drnovšek also answered some questions from the press: (unedited)

What was the motive for today's visit to the Municipality of Maribor and Maribor in general?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: Mayor Kangler sent me an invitation some time ago and I gladly accepted it. I think that Maribor is developing well and that the new Mayor and his team are now doing excellent work. There is a positive atmosphere, issues that have remained unaddressed for a long time are now being dealt with, such as the airport, and Maribor is and will continue sprucing up its image, and its reputation will be further enhanced by its cultural capital status. The cultural level of the city is already very high. Maribor certainly deserves to be visited by the President of Slovenia and I am glad to be here today.

Could your visit also be interpreted in the context of the restructuring of the political environment and as a support to Mr. Kangler and his political option, which is gaining strength?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: I certainly support Mr. Kangler. I find him to be a very reasonable man. As far as the restructuring of the political environment is concerned, you probably know about it more than I do.

This is your second visit in the last three months or so. Mr. President, are you simply returning the Mayor's visit that took place earlier this year or could one also understand it in a more political context?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: I am certainly returning his visit and, as I have already mentioned, Maribor is an important city and I believe that, like I told you, Mayor Kangler has started doing his job very well. As far as the political context which you would like to hear about is concerned... well, the fact that I talk to people and support their work in a way may certainly be understood as my support, as my agreement with something, with an approach, a method of work and good sense, because Slovenia needs to become politically friendlier for everybody, and not only for some.

Today in parliament you officially proposed Dr Kranjec as the new Governor of the Bank of Slovenia. Parliament is still waiting for your explanation regarding the selection method. Are you going to do this in writing or have you, perhaps, decided to go and explain it to the members of parliament in person?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: Look, it is essential that the National Assembly now finally elects a new governor, and I hope it does. Why only now and not earlier is a question they should ask themselves. I made my proposal, twice now, but the National Assembly, or more accurately the governing coalition, rejected it. I think that the original sin was committed when the proposal of the existing Governor Gaspari as the new governor was not passed in the National Assembly, so that all this quarrel and the ensuing conflict were caused, as I still believe, by this unreasonable act of the National Assembly. So, instead of asking me, they should ask themselves why they have brought about this situation. I sent them my answer in writing on the last occasion.

Does it mean that there will be no new answer?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: There is no point.

But the National Assembly has already made its decision...

Dr Janez Drnovšek: They will receive my answer that I sent them on the last occasion. Otherwise, they should ask themselves why they have brought about this situation. I hope that they will find some reasonable answer to it.

Do you think that the polemics surrounding the Governor of the Bank of Slovenia will also be repeated in the election of constitutional court judges or that the procedure will be easier?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: That remains to be seen. I hope we have seen enough of this now and that, in this case, the procedure will be smoother. At all events, I shall carry out my part of the task and I will try to find currently the best possible candidates.

And your comments on the mega amusement park in Nova Gorica?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: Oh, that is what I have already commented on, that the largest foreign investment in Slovenia will be in an amusement park, in some great big mega amusement park. That is a rather unusual priority for a country seeking rapid development, rapid technological and somehow balanced development. I can't imagine where the construction of mega amusement parks throughout Slovenia will lead. I don’t see any long-term prospects in us just having fun and gambling and so on. So I’m not enthusiastic about this.

Do you think that the disputes in the top echelons of Slovenian politics, which reached their peak with the SOVA [Slovenian intelligence service] scandal, have now ended?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: Disputes in the way they are sometimes presented have never existed. I have never had disputes. I have merely said what is wrong in this country, which some people didn't like, and then they offered different answers, with a variety of reactions including compromising people and similar. So if you're asking me if there will be an end to this – as far as I am concerned, certainly. I have never been doing this. I haven't compromised anybody; I haven't attacked anybody in such a way, but have merely tried to defend the institution of the national president and of course certain other institutions that were under threat. Including, of course, the freedom of the press and the independence of journalists.

As far as we know, you met Ms Barbara Brezigar today. Several days ago she said that the matter should be investigated immediately. Have you been investigated by her?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: I don't know what are you talking about.

Mr President, when did you last speak with Prime Minister Janša?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: I don't remember. It was probably some time ago, during Mr Gaspari's candidature, when Prime Minister Janša at first agreed to Gaspari's candidature and then not.

There was also a disagreement between the former President and Prime Minister Janša. Maybe you could comment on that?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: I will not comment on disagreements between others, but I do believe that they are rooted in the issues I have mentioned. Independence of the institutions in this country and a very aggressive approach against anybody who does not agree with the current governing authority. In my opinion, this should not happen in normal democratic countries.

We would ask you for your comment on naming [Ljubljana’s] Brnik airport "Jože Pučnik Airport".

Dr Janez Drnovšek: I don't know what to say. Rather an unusual suggestion. I don't know how foreigners will get used to it. Arond the world, cases of such naming of airports, for example John F. Kennedy Airport, are somehow normal, or Charles de Gaulle Airport, since these are names that are known to everybody and probably nobody had any trouble getting used to these airport names. I don't know if this would be the case here. I respected Mr Pučnik and this was the reason I posthumously awarded him the highest Slovenian medal. That is that, I think. I am not sure if there is any need to name an airport after him and if we start doing that, I don't know where we will end up. Will we then start naming towns after certain politicians? In the past, this was a practice which we abandoned.

How would you comment on the changes in the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia and in the Zares, where they probably count on you, on your support?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: I don't know if they count on me. These are two parts of the former Liberal Democracy of Slovenia and the party had plenty of problems. Now it is obviously trying to consolidate, no longer as one party, but in several parts. These are normal attempts and crises, even in political parties, after they have gone on for some time, usually end. So it is possible for this to happen in this case, too. My wish for them is that this will happen, given that I led the party for eleven years and it’s not good to see the kind of troubles the party has had in recent years. It seems that there are fairly good prospects for this to end, and that both the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia and Zares will be established as important elements of Slovenian politics.

Mr President, previously you yourself somehow said that your presence here is also a kind of acknowledgement for the policy of Mr Kangler, and probably also in a wider context, since in your opinion Slovenia needs another policy. In your opinion, is there a real possibility that the forthcoming elections will bring a change in the governing authority?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: You know, such a possibility must exist in every election. If it doesn't exist this means there is something strange about the country, about its democracy and its system. Of course there exists such a possibility, a very real one. If I said that it doesn't exist, then I would probably start packing up to leave Slovenia.
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