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04.12.2009 14:39
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Fallout from Decoration of Communist Police Head Continues

Foto Foto servis

Former Interior Minister of Slovenia before the country's independence from Yugoslavia Tomaz Ertl was decorated by President Danilo Tuerk for his role in Operation North.
File photo.

Ljubljana, 4 December (STA) - President Danilo Tuerk's decision to decorate a former head of the communist secret police for his role in a key police operation during Slovenia's preparations for independence continues to make waves in Slovenia. While a right-leaning forum joined the side of the critics, an independence war veterans movement welcomed the decoration on Friday.

The man at the centre of the controversy Tomaz Ertl is unapologetic. He told STA that this was the second time in his life that he was facing such criticism. "Only this time there is nobody in Belgrade reproaching me with protecting the anti-revolution movement in Slovenia, but only those who have already said everything they have to say about me."

Ertl, who as the secretary for interior affairs in the time when Slovenia was still part of the former Yugoslavia headed the National Security Service, said he still enjoyed support among the people and that he received many expressions of congratulations since his decoration on Monday.

Responding to criticism that the Silver Order of Service he received for his role in a 1989 police campaign that prevented a disputed rally that Serb nationalists wanted to stage in Ljubljana, Ertl said that he did not want to comment on why Tuerk decided to decorate him.

Meanwhile, an association uniting veterans of the 1991 war for Slovenia's independence welcomed Tuerk's decision. Head of the Veterans of the War for Slovenia Association Janez Pajer said that Ertl and two other persons decorated for their role in Operation North were rightfully honoured for what they did during the 1989 campaign.

Pajer said that all Slovenians should be proud of Operation North, which was a prelude to the independence war.

Meanwhile, the Forum for the Republic echoed on Friday the view of the critics of Tuerk's decision, foremost the opposition Democrats (SDS).

Much like the SDS, the right-leaning forum pointed to Ertl's role as the head of the "agencies of repression during the time of the one-party dictatorship". The forum's head Gregor Virant, a member of the former SDS-led government, called the decoration a "spit in the face" of democracy, independence and statehood.

The forum also urged Tuerk to revoke his decision and spoke about the continuing influence of "Udbomafia (UDBA being the former communist secret police), which has made Slovenia its feudal estate and is now trying to control everything".

Tuerk has already rejected the possibility of revoking his decision. He said on Thursday that Ertl was decorated after a thoroughly weighed decision.

"Twenty years on it is time that we make a sober judgement on events [from the time of Slovenia's independence] honour the people who headed this [police operation]," said Tuerk.

04.12.2009 14:39

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