Monday, 1 September 2014

Who is afraid of Slovenians in Australia?

In 1938, Orson Welles narrated an adaptation of H.G.Well's novel The War of the Worlds on American radio. The story was presented as a series of realistic news bulletins which made many people think that an invasion of aliens from Mars was in progress in America. The show did issue a disclaimer at the beginning but listeners who tuned in later believed an actual invasion was taking place which resulted in panic as some people fled their homes. In the aftermath, Orson Welles got away without punishment but radio networks were never to repeat such an experiment again.

I am often reminded of this story when I read Slovenian papers.

On 20 August, Aleksander Lucu of Nedeljski Dnevnik claimed in his column (with no disclaimer) that donors from Australia contributed $350,000 in cash to support the SDS election campaign or, as he puts it, 'our side'.

Another fascinating Lucu's claim in the same article relates to Nicholas Oman who allegedly went to jail in 2006 to evade Russian, Singaporean and Serbian debtors in armament deals. According to Aleksander Lucu, Oman holds documents that show most reliably who in Slovenia has hidden accounts, properties and other assets in Australia.  This is why he had to be discredited, together with recalled ambassador Balažic. Balažic's recall, on the other hand, was allegedly carried out on an order from 'above' by president  Borut Pahor about whom, claims Lucu, specific party intelligence people hold such damaging materials that he is the victim of their blackmail.

Aleksander Lucu is also a keen promoter of the story about Janša's clinic in Australia according to which the SDS leader is allegedly building a clinic for his physician wife in Australia. No matter how many times this story is repudiated, Slovenian media is again and again only too happy to bring it back to life.

In Slovenia, the Media Act in Article 8 clearly states that "it is forbidden to spread contents that incite ethnic, racial, religious, sexual or any other inequality; violence and war; and to provoke ethnic, racial, religious, sexual or other hatred and intolerance".

What is lying other than incitement to hatred and intolerance? Where did Lucu get the information that Australians donated $350,000 for the SDS election campaign? If Aleksander Lucu wished to find out the truth it would be easy enough. Living among Australian Slovenians  for a short period of time - and here I mean living among them rather than frantically searching for people who might be willing to hint at the existence of the phantom clinic - would inform him that Australian Slovenians are not involved in Slovenian politics enough to donate ANY amount of money, let alone a large sum like this. While it is impossible to say what individuals may have done, there was definitely no public fund raising for any Slovenian politician in 2014. 

Slovenian perception of Australia might be that this is such a rich country that dollar notes grow on trees (and Lucu is trying to tap into this potential perception) but let me tell you that in my garden trees grow only leaves and I have to work hard to make money. Like everyone else.

Who is or was Nicholas Oman is very easy to find out, just Google his name: there is even a Wikipedia page about him. What documents could he possibly hold? If they existed we would have known all about them by now. Recalled ambassador Balažic has been only too keen to shame and blame everyone who dared to raise his or her concerns about his role in this miserable affair which is and remains of his own making only.

If the part of Lucu's article that relates to our community is so remote from any resemblance of truth, what else can be said about the rest of his writing? If his editors are happy to publish stories that are not true and not verified, what does this tell us about Nedeljski Dnevnik?  If this is the face of Slovenian media, how can anyone believe in anything they say?

Let me finish with a comment I received from one of my readers from Slovenia: "I find it wonderful that such a 'small' community (Australian Slovenian) is still interested in reality and search for the truth, and tries to differentiate between right and wrong. Here, this is so blurred that one can no longer orientate oneself. You can follow one of the streams that you select or go with some kind of common sense. Many people follow this path - but when you talk to them you can see that even here there is no unity but rather a wide range of very different views. There is no discipline - in anything."

What about hope? Is there still any hope?





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