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MEP Romana Tomc To The Dutch Ambassador On The Award For The Institute Of The 8th Of March: This Is “Unacceptable Political Support” That Could Lead To Further Division Of Slovenian Citizens

A few days ago, the news broke that the Dutch Embassy had awarded the Tulip 2022 prize to highly controversial organisations from Slovenia, namely the Institute of the 8th of March (Inštitut 8. marec), the People’s Protest Assembly (Protestna ljudska skupščina) and the non-governmental organisation Today Is a New Day (Danes je nov dan). On Wednesday, MEP Romana Tomc sent a letter to the Dutch Ambassador Johan O. Verboom, in which she clearly expressed her disagreement with the selection of the organisations and the people who run them. These are extremely politically divisive organisations, and the awarding of the prize with clear knowledge of what they represent could be seen as “unacceptable political support.”

“I am certain you are familiar that the Institute of the 8th of March and Today Is a New Day are highly politically defined institutions, despite the fact that they declare

themselves as non-political organisations that stand for democracy and human rights. The actions they carried out in the past years and those we are witnessing now, show deep and unequivocal connections with the left political option and the ruling coalition,” Member of European Parliament Romana Tomc wrote in her letter.

At the beginning of the letter, Tomc wrote that while it goes without saying that it is the Dutch’s sovereign right to award whoever you desire, but also pointed out that in the background of the fight for which the award had been given to the “exceptional and brave defenders of human rights” are some political realities which only Slovenians can understand. In the continuation of the letter, she then tried to explain to the Ambassador what the role of these organisations was during the epidemic. Their actions were primarily aimed at destroying all government measures that were adopted in order to limit the spread of the epidemic, and their work at the anti-government protests did not “stem from concern for the protection of Slovenian citizens but had the fundamental purpose of opposing the Covid-19 measures.”

On the rough treatment of Dutch protesters by the police

Tomc then reminded his excellency Verboom of the difficulties his own government faced when it came to ensuring health-related measures in those difficult times were respected, while also taking care of the economy and providing adequate social security for children. “Your government has often dealt very harshly with protesters who did not comply with government measures. In Slovenia, security measures were much more lenient. Unfortunately, it was precisely the organisations such as the Institute of the 8th of March and Today Is a New Day and their like-minded supporters who supported the protests and, at the same time, with the help of the media, created the impression that the measures were disproportionate. Anyone who has at least a little knowledge of the situation in the European Union knows that this was not the case,” the Member of the European Parliament wrote in the letter.

Romana Tomc: I am sure that you are aware of this!

In the continuation of the letter, Tomc wrote that she is sure that Verboom is aware of the fact that the Institute of the 8th of March, together with some other organisations, prepared proposals for the repeal of the laws that were adopted during the pandemic and that the very same organisation is currently one of the organisers of the referendum campaign regarding the amendment to the Radio-Television Slovenia Act. She also expressed her disappointment regarding the fact that the Institute of the 8th of March, which seems to be advocating for women’s rights only at a declarative level, decided to remain more or less quiet in the notorious affair of sexual abuse in Fotopub, during which many women who were allegedly sexually abused published messages online which were highly indicative of sexual abuse and intentional drugging of the victims with illegal substances. “Moreover, let me express my great disappointment that the Institute of the 8th of March, despite the fact that it is supposed to stand up for human rights, did not stand up for the victims in the notorious affair about the sexual abuse of women in the Fotopub affair, with which you are probably also familiar. They also did not come forward regarding the attacks on journalists. Their principles have also been tested in many other cases of human rights violations,” she continued.

This could be seen as “unacceptable poclitical support”

Tomc finished her letter with the conclusion that when he decided to award the Tulip 2022 award to these organisations in particular, the Dutch Ambassador was undoubtedly aware of who he was awarding it to. “According to my experience so far, ambassadors of countries never interfere in domestic political topics, nor do they want to comment on what is happening in the country. The recognition that you gave to an organisation that is so openly politically motivated, and at such a crucial time, could be seen as unacceptable political support and could lead to further division of citizens,” she wrote in the conclusion of her letter.

Gal Kovač

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