We are publishing the public letter, written by the employed researchers at the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (Znanstvenoraziskovalni center Slovenske akademije znanosti in umetnosti – referred to as ZRC SAZU), Matija Ogrin, Ph.D., Boris Golec, Ph.D, and Anton Velušček, Ph.D. In it, they accused the director of the Research Centre, Oto Luthar, Ph.D., of abusing the organisation, as well as leading incorrect procedures. Luthar wrote a one-sided, petty political letter in support of the director of the Slovenian Press Agency (Slovenska tiskovna agencija – referred to as the STA), Bojan Veselinovič. In a letter to Luthar, the three academics accuse him of causing harm to the SAZU organisation. “With this, as the director, you have caused the public to increasingly perceive ZRC SAZU as an institution engaged in politics. We believe that this is very harmful: ZRC SAZU should be neutral in the field of politics and maintain a sovereign distance from any politicisation of scientific institutions,” the three academics wrote.
Not a day goes by during the mandate of the current government, in which the academics, the civil society or the reputable scientific institutions would not speak up with a public letter. Most of the authors of the letters have turned out to be satellites of the transitional left, who communicate, with their “professional and independent” opinion, that the current government is leading us into a dictatorship. It has been shown that the reason for the dissatisfaction of the people who write the letters is related to the fact that their livelihood is linked to the funding of their projects, societies, institutes and institutions. One of the public letters that recently resonated in public was a letter sent by SAZU in support of the STA director Bojan Veselinovič.
The letter was written by the director of the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Oto Luthar, Ph.D., and the letter does not have the broad support of all SAZU members, but rather, it is another political action by some of the influential members of SAZU. They staged another one of the petty political scandals against the current government. Tine Hribar, Ph.D., and Renata Salecl also used their influence at SAZU in a similar manner, as they tried to scare people with their theories of the end of the democracy. However, some SAZU members have now stoop up against this – namely, Matija Ogrin, Ph.D., Boris Golec, Ph.D, and Anton Velušček, Ph.D.
A LETTER TO THE DIRECTOR OF ZRC SAZU, OTO LUTHAR, PH.D.
On the 22nd of March 2021, the Delo newspaper web portal published the news that we, the ZRC SAZU employees, supposedly expressed our support for the Slovenian Press Agency and the conduct of its director, who refuses to hand over the required financial documentation to its financier, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia. The mentioned article, as well as the article that was published on the MMC RTV SLO web portal on the same day, quote parts of a text that can be interpreted as an official statement made by ZRC SAZU on this matter; we have not found this statement in its entirety anywhere, neither on our website nor on our social networks or in our internal e-mail. We have found out, off the record, that you, as the director, gave the statement to the press. We, the signatories, believe that your decision was wrong in several respects.
- It is controversial from the procedural point of view: you have not obtained the opinion of any of the bodies within the ZRC SAZU or a wider circle of established researchers for it, you have only consulted with some colleagues from your inner circle. Therefore, the statement published by the media as the position of ZRC SAZU, in fact, expresses the view of a narrow, very specific group of your personal colleagues but in no way represents the will of all researchers of ZRC SAZU. With this action, the group with which you drafted the statement and then launched it to the public “took ownership” of our joint research institution ZRC SAZU and used it to share their own political views. To everyone else who thinks differently or has no opinion on the matter, this is discriminatory and humiliating. At the core of the matter lies the question: is ZRC SAZU “owned” by the director or all the researchers that are part of it? The fact that you are also aware of the inappropriateness of this act is best confirmed by the fact that you did not inform the employees about the statement via the internal e-mail, where we often read the politically engaged notices and contributions that have nothing to do with the mission of the institution.
- Your decision is particularly problematic in terms of content: from the field of research and its financing, where you are authorised to legally represent ZRC SAZU, you have now reached into the field of daily politics: your statement was understood by the public as the ZRC SAZU criticising the Government Communication Office, and so the current Government of the Republic of Slovenia (which, as the financier, is justifiably requesting STA’s documentation), and as if we support the conduct of the STA director (who is violating the contract with the government by not delivering the documentation). The signatories consider it worthy of condemnation that the director of ZRC SAZU publicly supports the illegal conduct of another institution. With this, ZRC SAZU has committed another in a series of public actions, with which it interferes in the political field, but always exclusively by supporting initiatives from the circles of the political left. What is also especially noticeable is that you made the statement right in the days before the debate in the European Parliament on respect of democracy in Slovenia and thus involved ZRC SAZU in compromising the Government of the Republic of Slovenia abroad. With this, as the director, you have caused the public to increasingly perceive ZRC SAZU as an institution engaged in politics. We believe that this is very harmful: ZRC SAZU should be neutral in the field of politics and maintain a sovereign distance from any politicisation of scientific institutions.
- Unfortunately, political moves like these, made by the director of ZRC SAZU, cause undesirable division among the employees, due to the (dis)agreement with the director’s political views. This is another very negative effect of your actions, which bring politicisation and potential disagreements among the researchers in ZRC SAZU. Our institution should be, just like any other scientific institution, a space of scientific work that operates according to its own laws and methods and is safe from conflicts of daily politics.
Therefore, on our own behalf and on behalf of our colleagues whose names we do not want to make public, we urge you to not give statements on behalf of all employees of ZRC SAZU in public and to refrain from such actions in the future.
The letter was published on the website of the Družina newspaper.