“I am saddened to see these attempts to weaken our position in Europe, these attempts against the government of Janez Janša, which took office just before the pandemic hit and which has tirelessly helped Slovenian citizens, the economy and various sectors to overcome the pandemic as smoothly as possible. The Commission predicted a faster recovery for Slovenia than for some other Member States. The government’s efforts are yielding results,” MEP Romana Tomc told a Euroactiv journalist. Namely, the journalist was interested in the events that supposedly lead to Slovenia being included in the CIVICUS monitor watch list, which is a list of countries that are under scrutiny due to violations of human rights. But the journalist did not like Tomc’s answer, so she did not include it in her article.
The web portal’s journalist sent Tomc the following question: “Euractiv has learned that Slovenia will be added to the CIVICUS monitor watch list tomorrow due to concerns about the recent decline in respect for civic space. The main reasons for this decision include the situation with the media, in particular, the allegations about a hostile environment for the journalists and the state funding of the Slovenian Press Agency. I was wondering if you would be willing to comment on that.”
After receiving an answer from MEP Romana Tomc, the journalist decided not to include her statement in the article – which she also told Tomc. Did the statement not coincide with the agenda of the online media outlet, which was obviously told how to report on Slovenia? “We decided to use the audio format instead of writing an article on this topic, and therefore, we will not include the comment you provided, but I appreciate that you took the time to give such a detailed answer,” the journalist Molly Killeen wrote, who wrote an article on the 18th of June about how Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša allegedly attacked the Council of Europe over the media freedom report. What is also interesting is that this was her first article for the web portal Euractiv.
Only those who do not know what the situation is really like and want to spread fake news actually see Slovenia like this
“Dear Ms. Killeen, thank you very much for contacting us and for being willing to hear our story,” Tomc wrote at the beginning of her statement for the journalist in question, and continued that, unfortunately, the CIVICUS report is just another case in a series of measures against the Slovenian government. There have been many similar attempts made in Slovenia, but none of them have been successful so far. Therefore, these attempts have now been moved to the European level. Unfortunately, the report is so unbalanced that it is difficult to consider it a serious report. The sources of information on the basis of which the report was prepared should be checked. That would clarify lots of things. “Let me explain some additional facts about Slovenia. It is clear to everyone in Slovenia that the government does not use any violence against journalists and does not restrict the freedom of the media. Only those who do not know what the situation is really like, who do not speak the language, meaning that they cannot really understand the situation in its entirety, and those who want to intentionally hurt the government’s reputation by spreading spread fake news and lies, actually believe that this is the true story. The current government does not persecute or intimidate the journalists. However, some journalists are being pressured by their tycoon owners. It is unfortunate that many of them are trapped in precarious employment and mean nothing more to the owners of the media outlets they work for than a kind of means of maintaining a monopoly, for which they receive miserable pay. These are the problems that should be discussed,” said the MEP.
The problems of the Slovenian media space are non-transparent ownership and large, probably legally inadmissible media concentrations
According to an independent survey by the Faculty of Media, as many as 80 percent of Slovenian media are left-wing and anti-government oriented. Many posts can also be found on the journalists’ social media profiles, which clearly show strong activism against the government. The journalists can publicly label the government, the Prime Minister and the Slovenian President as fascists. None of them have been persecuted for it. “Do you think this is an example of attacks and pressuring of the media and journalists?” Tomc asked the journalist. The story of the Slovenian Press Agency is also much broader than what is being described in the media. It is a question of transparent and fair operations and the appropriate use of financial resources obtained from the taxpayers’ money. Given the facts known so far, there is a strong suspicion that the public money provided by the government as the sole owner of the Agency for the financing of the public service was spent in a non-transparent manner and outside the permitted limits. Unfortunately, director of the Slovenian Press Agency, Bojan Veselinovič, is threatening the Agency’s operations and many jobs by refusing to allow for an overview of operations and the money being spent, which is unacceptable. “You probably agree that it is unusual not to allow the owner the right to an overview, especially because in this case, when it comes to spending public money, control is a very sensitive issue. We all hope that this non-transparent behaviour will soon stop so that the Agency will be able to get rid of this burden,” Tomc pointed out and explained that non-transparent ownership and large, probably legally inadmissible media concentrations are among the major problems of the Slovenian media space. This was also pointed out by the European Commission in its first annual report on the rule of law in the Member States.
Interestingly, the Civicus report also states, among other things, that the right to peaceful assembly in Slovenia is endangered because of the fact that the government completely banned protests during the pandemic. Immediately after that, however, the report contradictorily adds that people have been organising weekly anti-government protests on Fridays ever since Janša came to power. Who is crazy here? According to the authors of the report, the protesters are facing illegal and disproportionate sanctions, including fines of up to ten thousand euros. Well, the last time somebody actually faced some consequences was when the police completely unjustly removed only the Yellow Jackets from the protests – who were merely standing still, with a banner in their hands. Their fine amounted to a little less than 400 euros, and they allegedly got it because they were violating public order. And in the last couple of months, the fines were imposed for violating the anti-corona legislative measures during the epidemic and not for protesting. “Harassment of journalists online and offline is not only coming from anonymous trolls but from the highest political elites, including the Prime Minister. Although Slovenia is still high on the media freedom index on paper, the real experiences of the journalists are uncertain, unpredictable and hostile,” said Špela Stare, Secretary-General of the Slovene Association of Journalists. It is almost hard to believe how far our activist opponents of the government, including the left-wing opposition, are willing to go just to get rid of Janša. At the moment, they and their European friends are trying to make sure we stop receiving the European funds – and they are not the least bit interested in the fact that Slovenia, which they are supposedly trying so hard to save, will suffer because of it.