Slovenian ambassador denies assault report

December 28, 2011
By

Robert Kokalj

The Slovenian ambassador to Egypt has denied reports that he had been harmed in Cairo’s Shubra district, saying that the incident had been exaggerated.

Egyptian media on Sunday reported that Robert Kokalj, 43, and his driver were taking pictures of the poor overcrowded district and street children when they were assaulted by hundreds of people who thought he was a spy photographing the area. Police and other residents eventually intervened to end the melee.

The Slovenian foreign ministry confirmed the incident in a statement to the Slovenska Tiskovna Agencija (STA) on Sunday.

However, Kokalj, who has been ambassador in Cairo since 2010, told Egyptian authorities that he was never hurt and that the incident had been inflated.

Explaining to the Egyptian foreign ministry head of protocol how events unfolded, Kokalij said that his regular driver was on holidays and that he was surprised when the interim driver took him “by pure chance” to the Shubra district where he was surrounded by residents who confiscated his personal belongings and took him to the police.

He said that the difficult situation was compounded by the fact that he did not speak Arabic. The police behaved professionally and returned all his belongings, he said.

According to his official biography, Kokalj speaks English, German, Slovak/Czech, Croat/Serb and Russian, and is now learning Arabic.

He is non-resident ambassador to Jordan, Qatar and non-resident ambassador-designate to Kuwait, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Kokalj said that had “full respect and appreciation” for the Egyptian people and that he had requested to go to the foreign ministry to explain the incident and ensure there was no misunderstanding.

He attributed his visit to Shubra to the need as ambassador to be fully aware of the facts on the grounds in order to support cooperation and partnership programmes with the Egyptian government and people.

Slovenia has numerous joint ventures on training medical staff and care for children with special needs, he said.

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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