The project of the “vote of no confidence” of the left-wing extremist opposition in the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia failed, so the opposition decided to use different vile approaches, aimed at harassing the current government led by Janez Janša, before Slovenia’s presidency of the Council of the European Union, which will come in the second half of this year.
The latest in the row of these vile actions was the misleading article that the Slovenian leftists passed on to the world public through the Brussels online newspaper Politico. With it, they tried to warn the world of the alleged Stalinist dictatorship of the Prime Minister of Slovenia, Janez Janša, claiming that with his iron fist, he is stifling the freedom of speech in the Slovenian media. The article contains a number of misleading allegations about threats to Slovenian journalists, alleged pressure on the national RTV (Slovenia’s national public broadcasting organisation), the Slovenian Press Agency (Slovenska tiskovna agencija – referred to as the STA), and also the planned change in media legislation. The response of the Slovenian government, which was also published on its official website, was not published by the ideological colleagues from Politico in their “impartial style” of journalistic unprofessionalism.
Slovenian journalists are actually political activists
The article was entitled Inside Slovenia’s war on the media, and its basic premise is that the Slovenian journalists are so afraid of the government of Janez Janša that it has led to self-censorship. The article contains a number of misleading statements, lies, referring to anonymous sources – allegedly, it refers to the statements of seven Slovenian journalists, who are so afraid that they did not even dare to let their name be published. Anyone who is familiar with the Slovenian reality knows that there really is no such fear among the journalists in Slovenia. In fact, the opposite is true. Many of the journalists are basically agitators of left-wing politics, journalistic-political activists, and an extended arm of the leftists and their street fights.
The pamphlet of the Slovenian leftist colleagues
The article in Politico was written by Lili Bayer, who also let the Slovenian Government Communication Office (Urad Vlade Republike Slovenije za komuniciranje – referred to as UKOM) know that she is writing the article and sent it several questions. The office prepared and sent her all the answers in time; however, Byer did not include them in the article or only mentioned them in passing. Thus, she acted against all journalistic standards, even though the Slovenian newspaper Delo, for example, made a special effort to show the “great journalistic professionalism of Lili Bayer.” This was also a clear indicator of the true goal of the article.
The intention of the Politico newspaper was to lend some of its space to its Slovenian colleagues, as the article is nothing more but an uncritical imitation of what the Slovenian left-wing political ideologues and their lackey central media outlets have been going on about. The key purpose is, of course, to sully Prime Minister Janez Janša’s reputation, especially since Slovenia’s presidency of the European Council, which will happen in the second half of this year, is fast approaching. Such actions are nothing new for the left-wing opposition, as they have done similar things several times in the past already, in some other global left-wing media outlets, such as the New York Times, and after the articles were published, Slovenian journalists were “horrified” by the observations of their foreign colleagues, which they just happened to come across. And this time, too, Politico was not the only media outlet that was used for this. Inaccuracies and unverified information were also published on the website of the Süddeutsche Zeitung on the 18th of February. In both cases, the Slovenian government demanded that the publications also publish corrections of its articles.
Fingerprints of Tanja Fajon and others
At a plenary meeting in March, the European Parliament will discuss the attempts of Poland and Hungarian governments to silence the free media in their countries. The second-largest political group in the European Parliament, the S&D, will also file a request for the debate to also include Slovenia, Tanja Fajon (SD), a member of the aforementioned political group from Brussels, happily announced in Politico. Irena Joveva, an MP from Šarec’s LMŠ, and Milan Brglez (SD) also expressed their satisfaction with this; however, Ljudmila Novak (NSi) shocked everyone when she joined them this time as well.
Ministry of Culture responds
As Mitja Iršič, Advisor to the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia for Public Relations pointed out, the Ministry of Culture is disappointed that Slovenian internal political fights, which the opposition and the pro-government journalists and academics are fighting against the current government, are also spreading abroad in a completely unfiltered form – that is to say, the articles in the New York Times, Politico, ZDF and RAI are almost exactly the same as those in the left and far-left Slovenian media outlets. That is, they do not offer any variable facts and concrete figures about the Slovenian media, only quotes from anonymous sources, always the same media expert (Professor Marko Milosavljević), and the statements of the individuals who are in active disputes with the current government coalition (employees or management of the RTV, STA, and so on).
Ministry of Culture and UKOM have always sent very precise data to the publications that have written articles about the Slovenian media, and the data completely discredited those who claim that there is no media freedom in Slovenia or that the government is trying to gain control of the media with the new media legislation. Not once was the government response summed up correctly – sometimes the response was not even mentioned, as in the case of Minister Simoniti’s adviser Miro Petek, who had a fifteen-minute interview with ZDF on the state of Slovenian media and media legislation, and in the end, ZDF used none of it. In the 10-minute article, they deemed that a 30-second unrelated video clip of Prime Minister Janša was enough to present the opinion of the other side.
Shameful exporting of lies abroad
Ever since the Janša government took office, we have been listening to how we live in an undemocratic system where there is no freedom of speech daily, sometimes from one side, other times from the other. Given that the left controls most of the central media, it is no surprise, of course, that there are no such accusations during the times of the left-wing governments. Because of this kind of media coverage, a false impression is being created that we live in a country where democracy is supposedly grossly encroached upon.
However, the democratic index from Slovenia, which has been published in the reputable The Economist, says otherwise. It reveals that the democratic index in Slovenia was the highest or grew when Janša’s government was or is in power.
There really is no need for concern regarding the media
Slovenian legendary journalists and editors Vinko Vasle and Jože Biščak sent a long letter to many institutions of the EU, in which they emphasised that RTV Slovenia was a political and ideological branch of the League of Communists during communism. It was led by the highest party officials, who mostly also cooperated with the secret police. Not much has changed since then.
The public RTV is still the successor of the former regime and is largely acting in accordance with that. Its operation in the important content area – that is, the information-political programme – is extremely one-sided, biased, unprofessional, even inciting, and in many cases, the journalists from RTV use lies and manipulations in their reporting. “This is not a public service, which would be equally fair or equally strict to everyone when it comes to the truth,” they stressed.
“In the same way that they behaved during the former communist regime, the Slovenian public broadcaster (RTV Slovenia) and some other media outlets (such as the national press agency – STA) which you defended, are behaving even now,” Vasle and Biščak wrote.
They pointed out that “in general, the revolt of the leftists and the management of RTV Slovenia only means that the RTV is afraid of becoming impartial and more plural. The radio and television part of the public service of the RTV tackles many important, serious issues from the position of pronounced hatred of different opinions; it stigmatises and disqualifies different opinions and does not inform, but rather imposes its opinions and beliefs. In order to do that, they only choose specific guests and even pick certain formats of the shows, and the worst thing is, all of this is happening as part of the daily news programmes.
Therefore, your moving concern is really unnecessary, as doubts have even arisen as to whether or not you actually read the documents on the new laws at all, or if you merely summarised what was served to you from Slovenia,” Vasle and Biščak wrote, among other things.
They sent the letter to Noel Curran, Director-General of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), and Vera Jourova, the European Commissioner for Values and Transparency.
They are willing to slaughter an ox for only one kilo of meat
Franc Bogovič, Member of the European Parliament, commented on the situation, saying: “This is a continuation of the political action against the current Government of the Republic of Slovenia on the European floor, behind which are the Slovenian SD (S&D) and LMŠ (Renew) and their deputies. This political action is being carried out on the European stage through the topics of freedom of the media and through the media themselves, ever since the resignation of the former Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, as their goal is apparently to sully the current Prime Minister Janez Janša’s government’s reputation, which these two parties are also aggressively trying to bring down in Slovenia. Us farmers know a good metaphor that perfectly describes this – they are willing to slaughter an ox for only one kilo of meat.”
MEP Romana Tomc also commented on the situation, saying: “Politico allowed itself to publish a completely unbalanced and manipulative article. In it, like in the case of many other foreign media outlets that write about Slovenia, there are clear marks of Slovenian authors. Only left-wing activists are cited as the source of information, and the answers that were provided by UKOM were simply not included in the article, as they would obviously undermine the story that the author was trying to tell. This is not an objective article which tried to show the political situation, but rather a political pamphlet, the purpose of which is to discredit Janez Janša, as well as his government.”
And MEP Milan Zver said the following: “I am saddened that a newspaper that was once reputable, which many of the diplomats, MEPs, employees of the European Institutions, and others read, has completely lost its independence and impartial direction, and bought into everything that the local political activists served to the journalist.”