LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Natasa Pirc Musar loves to ride motorcycles. She has worked as a human rights lawyer, TV presenter, led Slovenia’s top data protection agency, and is now the first female president of the small nation of the European Union.
“There’s never been a single day in my life where I’ve said, ‘Oh my God, I have to go to work,'” Pirc Musar said in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday. “All the work I’ve done in my life has been a hobby.”
The lawyer chosen by former US first lady Melania Trump to defend her interests in her native Slovenia said she is ready but still not fully aware of all the challenges she faces as the country’s head of state.
“To be honest, I’m not yet aware of all the obstacles to my private life,” he said at his law office on the outskirts of the capital, Ljubljana. “If you ask about my bike, I still want to ride a bike. I’ll have to discuss that with the security guys.”
The 54-year-old liberal beat a conservative candidate, former Slovenian foreign minister Anze Logar, by nearly 10 percentage points in Sunday’s second vote. His victory was seen as a boost for the country’s centre-left government, which won parliamentary elections in April and ousted a right-wing coalition.
In 2016, Pirc Musar and her client Melania Trump sued a local gossip magazine in Slovenia for suggesting that the former first lady worked as a high-end escort while pursuing an international modeling career before marrying Donald Trump. An out-of-court settlement was reached.
Pirc Musar said that Melania Trump congratulated her on the election victory.
“I was grateful for that,” said Pirc Musar. “I was his lawyer at the time when nasty rumors appeared in the Slovenian media and were then spread virtually all over the world.”
She still doesn’t know how the former first lady of the United States found it.
“He approached me at that time. I don’t know why he chose me. His people probably did the research, because I devoted most of my professional life to media law, data protection law. And the choice was probably obvious,” Pirc Musar said. .
While the presidency in Slovenia is largely ceremonial, the head of state remains an authority figure in the Alpine country of 2 million people.
“I wasn’t involved in daily politics in Slovenia, but I was an information commissioner for 10 years,” Pirc Musar said. “I definitely strongly believe in the European Union. I think the rule of law and human rights are things that most Europeans still believe in.”
Regarding the war in Ukraine, Pirc Musar said that the EU has done a lot for Ukraine, but it may not have done enough.
“As lawyers, we must be honest: Russia has violated international law, and that is a fact. Peace talks should begin as soon as possible,” he said, suggesting that an agreement to end the war should be made with Ukraine leading the way, rather than as a result of talks between the United States and Russia.
During the campaign, a lot of media attention was focused on the profitable network of companies owned by her and her husband. He rejected accusations that he had stashed money in tax havens, saying all businesses were declared to the Slovenian tax authorities.
He also previously served as president of the Slovenian Red Cross and helped draft personal data protection laws in Ukraine, as well as in Serbia and Montenegro.
He described his career as a journalist in the late 1990s as a “huge and positive experience”.
“I started learning about journalism on national television,” he said. “Basically, I became who I am today thanks to the media.
“Whatever I did in my life, I did it with passion,” Pirc Musar added.