Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Two responses to recalled ambassador Balažic's press conference in Slovenia

Alfred Brežnik: Answers to 'Večer' journalist Aleš Lednik in relation to the Balažic-Oman Affair (not published in Večer)  

On 9 July I received a few questions from Večer journalist Aleš Lednik relating to the Balažic-Oman affair. "Understandably, this story reverberates in Slovenia... moreover, at his press conference Balažic pointed his finger at you as an informal link between Janša's SDS in Slovenia and the Slovenian community in Australia," he wrote. And added: "Our readers and the Slovenian general public would like to know whether you can answer a few questions."

I responded the next day; however,  up till now I haven't seen the publication of my answers, even though I was told that I could expect it (and receive a copy). I suppose my answers were not controversial enough. Please find my response below.

Let me say that I first heard about Dr Milan Balažic's press conference on Tuesday at around midnight when a journalist from RTV Slovenia called me. She was interested in my comment on Balažic's revelations regarding the affair with Oman at which I had hinted in my open letter to Minister Erjavec. I said at the time that Balažic claimed it was a big issue (which I refused to discuss publicly) and if it came to his recall he was going to 'put his cards on the table'. The journalist reminded me that this actually happened with this press conference and asked for my comment. I refused to make a statement as I did not know the content of the press conference. Additionally, my/our (the Australian Slovenian community) issue with Balažic had nothing to do with Oman's oil-rich land in Republika Srpska. Our protests mainly related to Balažic's claims that he did not invite Nicholas Oman to the opening of the Consulate in Melbourne.

His insistence followed by insults aimed at individual members of our Slovenian community and the community as a whole triggered off general outrage which resulted in protests. In the Slovenian program on SBS Radio on Friday 14 March he denied, over and over again, that he invited Oman. I therefore called him the following Monday and advised that this whole affair would never have erupted had he apologized to the community, explained  that the whole issue was an error and promised that it would not happen again - and it would all be forgotten. He did not listen. PITY!  

In my letter to MinisterErjavec I described my relationship with the ambassador and will not repeat myself here - they were good, open and friendly. We worked together for the common good of our homeland and the Australian Slovenian community.  After my resignation/retirement he asked me many times to act as his advisor. Thus I was even more surprised by his attack during his press conference in Ljubljana last week,  and in a style that I would never have expected from him.

Of special interest are his claims (according to 'morel.si') that:  some individuals from the Australian-Slovenian community who are closely linked to the informal structure of Janša's SDS Party that operates in Australia started a pogrom on him. They panicked because Balažic met with Oman. They were frightened that Balažic would pass on dangerous information about Janša and his involvement in arms dealings, the clinic that Janša allegedly had in Australia, money laundering, funding of the SDS Party in Slovenia from Australia, secret Janša's visits in this country and other dirty business. This SDS structure in Australia is  led by former Honorary Consul Alfred Brežnik who continues to abuse his consular position for the benefit of Janša fans in Australia and Slovenia.

For havens sake, has this gentleman gone completely potty - has he lost all his common sense? Is he hallucinating? I can imagine that this whole affair affected him badly: the loss of a distinguished career/job of ambassador, perhaps even his job at the faculty - it's terrible! I honestly feel sorry for him! However, as Minister Erjavec said, all this is of his own making. Suddenly it is the fault of the whole  government and his friends, and SDS Jansa fans in Australia with Brežnik at the helm.

And now to your questions:

1) Have you personally or any informal SDS structure, as the media calls it here (do you mean Balažic?), had any contacts with the Slovenian Democrat Party in Slovenia, what contacts and with whom? Do you know Jože Jerovšek and are you in contact with him?

I have no idea what kind of informal SDS structure Mr Balažic has in mind. Personally I don't know or have ever heard of any formal or informal SDS structure here in Australia. I have never been a member of any political party in Slovenia, including SDS.

I do have, however, friends who are members of this party. Additionally, I have sympathised with the SDS Party from its very beginning, from the time when its predecessor party was led by my friend Dr Jože Pučnik. I don't know personally Mr Jožef Jerovšek and I have never met him. I only know that he is a SDS member in the National Assembly.

2) How do you comment never verified accusations and rumours at which Balažic is hinting between the lines that part of the Slovenian community in Australia finances SDS?

I have no knowledge of any organised part of the community funding for SDS. If there is any such individual, which is possible - I do not know of him or her.

3) How do you comment the information that part of the Slovenian community under your leadership assists Janez Janša financially and otherwise?

This is absurd! I would, however, be happy if this were the case as Janez Janša deserves and needs help!

4) Do you have any information about Janez Janša's secret private visits to Australia during which he negotiated such assistance?

Total nonsense, just like your next question (5) that Janez Janša possesses a private clinic. About  two years ago we received such questions from Slovenian journalists at the Consulate and at the Embassy and made it clear at the time that this was all made up. The Embassy in Canberra also responded negatively, calling the allegations absurd!

5) How do you comment allegations that due to the fact that Nicholas Oman knew all these things and tried to trade such information through Balažic the informal SDS structure in Australia panicked and launched the story about Oman?

I believe I answered this question in my introduction above, before my answers to the questions. I don't know what exactly would be the cause of such panicking?!! And in what way was the story about Oman 'launched'? He appeared there publicly! At the official opening of the Consulate! Any community gathered together at such a distinguished function in Australia would react the same if people knew that one of the invited guests was Nicholas Oman. 


Alfred Brežnik
Sydney, 10 July 2014



Joe Ramuta: Letter to the Editor 

Thank you for your informative post, which I read with interest. I have tried not to respond on some of them, as it would probably attract some negative responses from readers. However the latest video of Dr. Balažic’s response to the saga of his own making, I decided to make a comment. I actually liked the guy, I thought he has the personality to attract the following of the Slovenian community in Australia. I was present at the opening of the honorary consular in Melbourne and I thought it was well organized and not too formal. I have noticed the person in question with shady past standing not far from me to my right, (Oman) however I have never seen him before and never heard of him until I read of complaints from some people who knew who he was.

In my opinion, all that the ambassador had to do, was to apologize to the Slovenian community about the presence of Oman and he would probably be still an ambassador of the republic of Slovenia. Despite having a high opinion of Dr. Balažic in the past, I have now changed my mind.

I know of at least one another person, who claims, he was not invited to the opening, to be present at the opening and later at the Jadran club, which means that anyone could be there, as there was no security check. I have spoken to the Ambassador at the Jadran club and also presented him and the honorary consul with my book ''Pot v Neznano''. Knowing Derry Madison personally, I was happy for him to have the honor representing the Republic of Slovenia among us and I can appreciate his contribution to the service to the Slovenian population in Victoria (at his own expenses).

I have also been following the judicial system in Slovenia. The old Communists, who are still (trying) to run the country, are also running the courts and judges. Why does former presidents of the republic of Slovenia, Kučan, Turk and the old Communist Slovenian president Stanovnik still have so much power in pulling the strings. They should sit back and enjoy their handsome pensions, as do the presidents of other democratic countries. The old guard will never forgive Janša for his contribution to the democratic movement in the late 80s and subsequent independence from Communist Yugoslavia. They will do anything to destroy him. I just hope the European court will eventually clear him.

As one of my friends commented the other day: You can take Slovenia out of Balkan, but it is impossible to take the Balkan out of Slovenian politicians...

Joe Ramuta
Geelong, 12 July 2014

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