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In the European Parliament, the SD President Tanja Fajon Kept Quiet About Her Party’s Undemocratic Attitude Towards the Media

At the recent plenary session in Brussels on media freedom in Poland, Hungary and Slovenia, SD Party president Tanja Fajon said that not only is heath currently being threatened in Slovenia, but also media freedom and democracy. This was, of course, said with the intention of creating an atmosphere for her parliamentary colleagues in Brussels that would convince them that Prime Minister Janez Janša supposedly intimidated and attacked the journalists, discredited public radio and television and even critical reporting. However, Fajon, of course, forgot to mention that the intimidation at RTV actually comes from the SD party. Namely, one of the Mayors from the SD party called the RTV Slovenia team and asked its members to explain themselves in regard to their reporting. We must also not forget that the proud successors of the Communist Party prevented Nova24TV cameraman from recording one of their press statements because they do not like reporting that is done outside of the framework of the mainstream media, which all support the same ideas.

The municipal council of Kanal ob Soči recently adopted a decision to propose to the editorial board of Television Slovenia’s news programme to assess the objectivity of Mojca Dumančič’s reporting. Namely, the municipality was bothered by how the journalist reported on the incineration in Salonit Anhovo and the issue of the drinking water supply. The editor of the internal political editorial office, Dejan Ladika, responded to the pressure from the municipality and emphasised that this was an unacceptable attempt at influencing the reporting and discrediting the journalists.

In his response, Ladika explained that the RTV journalist had been following the events in the environmentally devastated middle Soča Valley for three decades now. “And in caring for the little man, who continues to die because of asbestos even today, she reported objectively all the time. Her microphone and camera were always open and prepared for anyone. However, ever since last summer, when we started to research the pollution of the drinking water by the Eternit factory, the representatives of the Kanal ob Soči municipality begun to refuse to explain anything to our media outlet. And there is more. Mayor Tina Gerbec from the ranks of the Social Democrats and the director of the municipal administration Nejc Kumar called our journalist and asked her to explain herself. So, she went there with her cameraman, so she could have finally gotten a response from the municipality. But the mayor did not allow them to film it. Therefore, our team left the municipal premises in protest.” According to Ladika, it is completely unacceptable for the politicians at the local level to close the door to some, usually critical journalists, thus depriving the public, and especially the locals, of information and explanations.

Fajon usually reacts very critically to anything she considers an attack on the media; however, this was not the case here. In her response to the accusations of the SD mayor pressuring the journalist, she wrote the following: “I spoke with the mayor Tina Gerbec today and told her that any decision that passes judgement on the work of journalists is inappropriate. We agreed that it is best to communicate regularly, calmly and transparently both with the journalists as well as the public. Precisely because of the burning issues that have arisen in Kanal, and because I know that the mayor only wants what is best, I suggested that she should have an honest conversation with the journalists, because only then will it be possible for them to build a relationship based on trust again. The public has a right to information, and the journalists have a duty to ask questions. It is the responsibility of the politicians to make both a possibility.” With her response, she let it be known that this was only a mistake and a misunderstanding.

Ever since the leadership of the SD party had been taken over by Fajon, hypocrisy and exclusion know no bounds The public has a right to information, and the journalists have a duty to ask questions. It is the responsibility of the politicians to make both a possibility,” is what Fajon said, which is something worth repeating, especially in light of the SD party’s move at the end of February. Despite the fact that the SD party likes to make it clear to everyone that they are supposedly advocating for media freedom, this did not stop them from preventing the Nova24TV cameraman from filming the party president’s press conference. Denis Sarkić, the spokesman for the party, said in a telephone conversation that the party does not want to work with us, thus proving that they discriminate between different media. When our cameraman asked them if he could record a statement, he was told that they would not give our media outlet a statement. We also sent journalistic questions to the SD party, asking if this is what they think media freedom is. They did not respond to all of our questions; however, they did send the following response: “As you know, all of us in the SD party have long ago decided not to work with your media outlet due to the well-known abuses, lies and forgeries. Unfortunately, you continue to deliberately generate lies and hatred. As long as that is the case, you are not welcome at our events.

Fajon did apologise for the incident and said that there had obviously been a misunderstanding, which she did not have the time and opportunity to change. “I did not say to anyone that they should ban the cameraman. All journalists and all media outlets are welcome at our press events.” However, the fact remains that the content of the press release that the SD party sent us speaks for itself. Namely, in the message, they did not express any regret over the unfortunate event, which is worrying. After all, they are an established parliamentary party. The party, which claims that the current government is repressing the media, is thus the only party in our political space that has actually physically prevented access to a press conference for a media outlet. Ever since the leadership of the SD party had been taken over by Fajon, hypocrisy and exclusion know no bounds.

As we can see, what happens in practice, is that the party which reports, almost on a daily basis, about the alleged pressures on the work of the Slovenian media only sees the pressured on the media when they are supposedly being carried out by others. Borut Rojc, the son of Mayor Emil Rojc of Ilirska Bistrica, who was expelled from the SD party, which he was a member of since its very beginning, wrote that it was obvious that the party is getting more and more tangled up in their own claims. “They accuse others of what they themselves are doing. Is this not inappropriate communication with the media? Will the Young Forum make a proposal for an exclusion? If not, then tell me why. For some media outlets, some rules apply; for the other media outlets, the rules are different.” According to Rojc, it is clear that the exclusion of his father was not about inappropriate communication with the media. “He was expelled from the party because he opposed illegal migration and because he successfully cooperated with the government of the Republic of Slovenia for the benefit of the little man.”

Fajon’s recent claims, with which she is trying to portray the government as responsible for the fact that we are on our way to a “dictatorship,” is perverted. As such, she believes that the government is also unable to successfully carry out the presidency of the European Council. It would be really good if the party, which considers itself to be the proud successor of the Communists, took a long, hard look at itself and see what practices the party itself is pursuing, and only then start worrying about others. The actions of allowing yourself to interfere in the reporting policy of the public media outlet when it dares to criticise the SD party for a change and label a media outlet that you do not like as undesirable, and physically prevent it from attending a press conference, is something that belongs to the times of a one-party regime, which systematically violates human rights and fundamental freedoms. The SD party should really finally come to terms with the fact that the hopeless project of the vote of no confidence failed, despite all of the help from the mainstream media. It should also finally start cooperating with the other parties and the government in order to tackle the health crisis that has arisen as a result of the epidemic, rather than just causing trouble for everyone.

Sara Kovač

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