STA, 24 May 2022 - A higher court ruling shows that it may prove harder than initially thought to evict the NGOs renting out the offices from the Culture Ministry in Metelkova Street in Ljubljana, which the ministry would like to renovate and give to the Museum of Natural Sciences, which is in dire need of more space.
The Ljubljana Higher Court has recently annulled the eviction order for the Centre for Slovenian Literature, a ruling the ministry plans to appeal.
The other NGOs in the same building meanwhile expect the court to pass similar rulings on their appeals against their eviction orders.
At the end of 2020, the ministry gave all tenants a year to vacate the building but did not offer them alternative offices, a plan the NGOs objected.
The ministry thus launched eviction proceedings against every individual NGO, which they separately challenged in court, Iztok Šori, director of the Peace Institute, one of the tenants, told the STA on Tuesday.
Šori labelled the ruling as "a great success and relief" for all the organisations which have been in an uncertain situation for a year and a half.
He sees it as a precedent for the rest of the NGOs there whose appeals are yet to be ruled on, and an end of the attempted eviction.
Similarly, Dino Bauk, a lawyer for the NGOs, said the case is more or less closed.
He said that most of the NGOs have a clause in their agreements under which they remain tenants until a new call to rent out the premises is published.
And since such a call has not been published, the argument that the building will be rented out to the Museum of Natural History also does not hold, Bauk explained.
The majority of lease agreements were signed with the NGOs in 1997 on the basis of a public call.
Since no new call was issued after a three-year period expired, the contracts were extended with annexes and eventually became permanent.
But the ministry has said earlier that no rental or lease agreement can be permanent, that some tenants have rented out the premises to a third party, and that some no longer meet the criteria for free-of-charge lease since they no longer have the status of an NGO in culture.
The culture community has largely seen the eviction plan as yet another of Minister Vasko Simoniti's attempts to undermine the independent culture sector.