Slovenia PM Demands Minister Clarify Alleged Telekom Spying

Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar wants Defense Minister Janko Veber to explain allegations over the use of military intelligence agents to asses the effect of the Telekom Slovenije DD sale on the country’s defense capabilities.

Cerar, who was traveling to a European Union summit on Thursday, demanded a detailed report from Veber after the parliamentary committee supervising the intelligence services said Veber abused power, the government said in an e-mailed statement late Wednesday. Veber denied any wrongdoing, according to the e-mail.

Cerar’s administration is extending the sale plan of 15 companies, including the main phone company, that was devised by the previous premier, Alenka Bratusek, when Slovenia was close to needing an international bailout in 2013. Veber said he sees no reason to resign because he was acting in line with legislation.

“These agents weren’t checking the process of privatization itself,” Veber told reporters in Ljubljana on Thursday. “They are putting together an analysis of what a change of ownership, possibly to a foreigner, would mean for the defense capabilities of Slovenia.”

Cerar’s three-party coalition includes the pensioner Desus party and the Social Democrats, one of the parties in Bratusek’s government that initially agreed to the sell-off and later showed reluctance to follow through with it. Veber is a Social Democrat.

Bid Deadline

Telekom Slovenije bids are due “in the next weeks,” Matej Pirc, the chief of Slovenian Sovereign Holding, the state asset manager, said March 17. The sale process may be delayed until April, Finance newspaper said Wednesday without saying where it got the information.

The junior coalition members still harbor “minor second thoughts on privatization,” Cerar said in an interview March 16. “These are somewhat bigger with the Social Democrats, as it seems the party is also divided into two or maybe even more factions.”

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