Ljubljana related

12 Apr 2021, 19:28 PM

STA, 12 April 2021 - The journalists of the newspaper Delo, as well as the paper's editorial board and the Journalists' Association, have condemned threats levelled against Delo's Brussels correspondent Peter Žerjavič by Žan Mahnič, the state secretary for national security.

The journalists believe that the threat tweeted by Mahnič is yet another attempt to put pressure on the newspaper and individual journalists who are doing their job professionally and in line with the highest standards, also enjoying the support of the publisher leadership and editorial board.

Last week, Žerjavič tweeted a link to an article about Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša's criticism of the German public broadcaster ARD following a report by the broadcaster about pressure on the media in Slovenia.

"Comparing the main German public TV broadcaster with Stürmer or Pravda is hypocrisy never before seen at this level," Žerjavič added in reference to the Nazi and Communist propaganda papers to which Janša likened the ARD and which is also discussed in the article posted on the website of the ARD news show Tagesschau.

In response, Mahnič tweeted "who in the EU cares what some irrelevant ARD thinks. You should be worried how many more Thursday afternoons you will be having fun at Place du Luxembourg if Petrič fails to get annexes for the second rail track."

Mahnič was referring to Stojan Petrič, a co-owner and the director of the publisher Delo, who remains a prominent figure in the industrial conglomerate Kolektor, the company that recently signed key contracts with the government to build a new railway to the port of Koper.

Apart from current journalists working at Delo, an open letter was also issued by former journalists of the paper, saying Mahnič's tweet was not only a threat but also an attempt at blackmailing Delo.

"He has made these threats openly and without reservations, even though this is criminal blackmail, a brutal attack on the paper's autonomous editorial policy and media freedom in general. A new violent attempt at political subjugation of Delo is taking place via blackmail of the owner."

The letter also mentions alleged withdrawal of a commentary by Janez Markeš critical of the government from a Saturday edition after a part of the copy had already been printed.

"Was the editor under pressure from outside or under political pressure to do this? In any case, the paper has witnessed brutal (self)censorship, inconceivable in autonomous and credible journalism," former Delo journalists said.

They also noted that the pressure Delo had found itself under is not unlike the pressure to which public broadcaster RTV Slovenija and the press agency STA were being subjected.

06 Apr 2021, 12:11 PM

STA, 6 April 2021 - The right-wing weekly Reporter comments on the political situation in the country, speculating, among other things, that Prime Minister Janez Janša may step down and force an early election.

After a series of defeats, an impeachment against Janša is a victory for the opposition, now presumably stronger by three votes from breakaway coalition MPs from the ranks of the Modern Centre Party (SMC).

But Janša may still take matters into his own hands and resign, even though he is not too worried about the impeachment. "He will almost certainly manage to get enough votes from MPs terrified of an early election."

Meanwhile, his losing of support in the National Assembly is a bigger problem. Discipline among MPs of the Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) may be good, but the remaining SMC MPs are unreliable.

Meanwhile, the opposition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) MPs vote according to their conscience, the National Party (SNS) according to its price list, and the two minority MPs refuse to be the ones to tip the scales.

A Short History of Impeachment in Slovenia

Sooner or later, the coalition will get stuck. "It seemed that Janša was willing to tough it out until the end of Slovenia's EU presidency, but now his exceedingly obvious Euroscepticism and the willingness to fight Europeans show that leading the EU is less important to him than we had thought."

A short-term solution for the coalition could be the return of Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek back into parliament, which would give the coalition one more vote. But this is not something Počivalšek would look forward to, as he obviously does not do too well in environments where pragmatism does not come first.

Another official who has found himself out of his element is Jelko Kacin after he was named national vaccination coordinator. "His coordination brought chaos, resentment and devastating results in the vaccination of the most vulnerable groups."

While many elderly are still waiting for the shots, privileged individuals, such as Janša's lawyer Franci Matoz, have already been vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the public is becoming ever less willing to follow coronavirus restrictions, the paper says under the headline What If We Run Out of Toilet Paper.

03 Apr 2021, 14:06 PM

STA, 2 April 2021 - The opposition-sponsored motion proposing parliament impeach PM Janez Janša before the Constitutional Court is the seventh such motion against a prime minister or president to date. None have succeeded. Most have been tabled by Janša's Democrats (SDS) with late Janez Drnovšek being the most frequent target.

22 November 1994, a motion to impeach PM Janez Drnovšek

The motion was tabled at the initiative of the People's Party (SLS) by 17 opposition MPs. They accused Drnovšek of violating several constitutional articles and the foreign affairs act through negotiations with Italy on foreigners' right to real estate in Slovenia. The National Assembly overwhelmingly voted down the motion on 19 January 1995, but had to repeat the vote on demand from one MP (the result of the first vote was 15 in favour and 58 against; and of the second 17 in favour and 56 against).

7 April 1998, a motion to impeach PM Janez Drnovšek

The motion was put forward by the SDS over a contentious security agreement Slovenia signed with Israel in 1995. The National Assembly rejected the motion on 21 May by 46 votes to 28.

19 October 1998, a motion to impeach PM Janez Drnovšek

The proposal was submitted by a group of MPs headed by Janša (SDS), once again over the Israeli-Slovenian agreement. It was voted down on 9 February 1998 with 24 in favour and 46 against.

28 January 2010, a motion to impeach President Danilo Türk

The motion was put forward by MPs from the ranks of the SDS and SLS and was prompted by Türk's decorating in 2009 Tomaž Ertl, a former chief of the communist secret police for his role in a police operation helping Slovenia's independence efforts. The MPs argued Ertl was directly responsible for human rights violations. The motion was voted down by 52 votes to 32 on 3 March 2010.

15 November 2017, a motion to impeach PM Miro Cerar

The proposal was filed by SDS MPs, who accused Cerar of abusing his position for intervening to prevent a lawful decision to deport Syrian refugee Ahmad Shami. The National Assembly rejected the motion by 52 votes to 18 on 9 January 2018.

21 December 2018, a motion to impeach PM Marjan Šarec

The motion was proposed by MPs from the ranks of the SDS and National Party (SNS) for the legislator's failure to implement a Constitutional Court ruling to secure full financing of publicly approved curricula in private primary schools. The motion was voted down by 53 votes to 29 on 29 January 2019.

2 April 2021, a motion to impeach PM Janez Janša

The proposal was tabled by MPs from the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD), the Left and the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), who allege the government seized all the powers to manage the Covid-19 epidemic and failed to order all the available amounts of vaccines. They also allege pressure on the media and prosecution, among other things.

*In 2014 the SDS announced such a motion against Alenka Bratušek, the prime minister of the time, over delays in enacting a law on the fiscal rule. The motion was not filed because Bratušek stepped down a few weeks later after being defeated by Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković for the presidency of the party Positive Slovenia.

02 Apr 2021, 14:21 PM

STA, 2 April 2021 - Four centre-left opposition parties have tabled a motion asking the National Assembly to impeach Prime Minister Janez Janša before the Constitutional Court, accusing him of violating several articles of the constitution and laws, pertaining to healthcare, media, prosecution and human and constitutional rights. Janša called the move pathetic.

Addressing reporters in front of the parliament, Marjan Šarec, the former prime minister and leader of the LMŠ party, presented Slovenia's failure to order its full share of available vaccines against Covid-19 in December as the first count of the motion.

On the second count, the LMŠ, Social Democrats (SD), the Left and the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) accuse the Janša government of "deliberate destruction" of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) through suspension of financing.

The government is also accused of breaking legislation on prosecution by failing to appoint five out of ten prosecutor candidates put forward in the autumn and "dragging its feet" in the appointment of the selected candidates for European delegated prosecutors.

All those charges show "the government is eroding the foundations of democracy [...] Based on ideology it is destroying basic human rights and constitutional rights," SD leader Tanja Fajon said, offering the "spread of violence against women" as one example.

Luka Mesec, the leader of the Left, highlighted the government's military investment plans, which his party has been trying to prevent through a referendum, asserting the government was trying daily to break the limits of power set by the constitution.

SAB leader Alenka Bratušek added that the health crisis had been compounded by a crisis of democratic values. "It's more than obvious Janez Janša cannot govern in a crisis."

One of the accusations levelled at the government is that the government has put the constitutional right to clean drinking water at risk through controversial amendments to the water act.

Responding on his Twitter account, Janša called the motion yet another "pathetic move" aimed at destabilising the country during the epidemic, which he said followed the failed vote of no confidence in him, "media murders of coalition partners DeSUS and SMC and a series of failed interpellations".

"The worse for Slovenia, the better for the parties SD, LMŠ and the Left," Janša said.

In a separate post, he responded to Fajon's calls for an end to violations, addressing them back to her: "We haven't heard this clear self-criticism from Tanja Fajon or the SD party before. Will actions follow? A move out of the stolen Jewish villa? No more banishing media from their press conferences? No more bowing to mass murderers? No more intolerant declining of invitations from the president?".

For the motion to succeed, it would have to be backed by at least 46 of the 90 deputies of the National Assembly. The legislature needs to decide on the proposal within 60 days or else it is considered rejected. If backed, the motion is then referred to the Constitutional Court.

Šarec said the motion was an opportunity for "each MP to take a stand". The parties propose for President Borut Pahor to state his opinion on the motion as well.

He said the deputy group established by MPs who defected from the factions of the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) and the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), a former coalition partner, did not sign on to the motion but they had not talked about their potential support in the vote.

In response, the head of the group, Janja Sluga, said the charges listed in the motion were "exactly" why they left the SMC deputy group and coalition.

Janša's Democratic Party (SDS) will respond once it has studied the motion, but its coalition partner New Slovenia (NSi) accused the opposition of "destructive and irresponsible conduct".

The opposition "appear to be willing to use all available means to add political instability to the aggravated epidemiological picture", instead of joining forces in defeating the Covid crisis, said the NSi.

In a similar vein, Zmago Jelinčič, the leader of the National Party (SNS), said the motion showed the left opposition were "in a terrible panic, willing to ruin the country and homeland to regain former privileges.

The SMC and DeSUS are yet to take a stand.

This is the seventh impeachment motion to date, including one targeting a president. Most have been tabled by Janša's SDS and none have so far been successful.

27 Mar 2021, 11:26 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 26 March 2021. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Govt increasingly relying on repressive apparatus

STA, 26 March 2021 - Mladina says in its latest commentary that, as ever more people are losing trust in the government, the latter is increasingly relying on the repressive apparatus in exercising its power, adding that, in terms of repressiveness, Janez Janša has exceeded "his role model from Budapest" Viktor Orban.

"Life in Slovenia may become dangerous for many people in the coming months. And we are serious about the word 'dangerous'", the left-leaning weekly says in the commentary headlined Dangerous Times.

On behalf of the Democrats (SDS), Interior Minister Aleš Hojs continues to install political staff in all senior positions in the police, with one of the purposes being to intimidate police officers into shelving certain cases.

"The second reason is worse. It is a clear intention to use the police for political purposes," Mladina says, noting that the government adopted a decision last week that the police investigate Slovenian Press Agency (STA) director Bojan Veselinovič.

It has meanwhile been reported this week that criminal investigation has also been launched against Court of Audit president Tomaž Vesel, and the goal is the same - to make him nervous, to make him stop auditing their work, to step down, or at least withdraw from public.

"Against the disobedient and those who do not agree with it or are not willing to be subjugated to it, the government is using the repressive apparatus, i.e. the police," the weekly says, adding that this is not surprising at all.

Slovenia has arrived to a point where comparisons with Hungary are no longer appropriate, as "Janša has surpassed his role model from Budapest. There are realistic reasons for this: if Orban is convincing for the majority of Hungarians, for Slovenians Janša is not."

Actually, in selecting his methods, Janša is becoming increasingly similar to Vladimir Putin, Mladina says, concluding: "It is unbelievable what is happening in Slovenia. Reality has become worse than a nightmare."

Demokracija: Judiciary should be overhauled

STA, 25 March 2021 - You don't exactly have to be Einstein to see through the deep state's plan to undermine Janez Janša as legitimately and legally elected PM and harm him with a show trial when Slovenia presides the EU in the second half of 2021 and affect the outcome of the 2022 super-election year, Demokracija says in its editorial on Thursday.

The weekly affiliated with the ruling SDS comments on what is known as the Trenta case, which revolves around a piece of land in the Trenta Valley Janša bought in 1992 and sold in 2005 for nearly nine times the price he paid, and for which an indictment against him was filed last year over abuse of office.

The magazine recalls the Patria case, "a witch hunt which the deep state dragged over a period of three elections and thus indirectly influenced the election result, while nobody was held responsible for their base doings and Janša's unfair judgement, for which he spent 176 days in jail".

It says it the Patria case was an obvious fabrication and a political trial directed against SDS leader Janša, while those who are still able to think critically recognise the same pattern in the Trenta case, which Demokracija says could amount to another election fraud.

"If the indictment in the Patria case was absurd, the one in the Trenta case is also bizarre," the editorial runs, adding that in a free and democratic world buying a property and later selling it at a profit would be a normal transaction worthy of no attention, let alone of the prosecution getting interested in it.

"But if you are Janez Janša, enemy No.1 of the deep state, the case is dragging on only to end with an indictment - because you sold the property at a higher price than you bought it (true crime, right?) and you were prime minister when selling it. So you have automatically abused office."

Demokracija says that "suitable" judges have been engaged in Trenta proceedings to make sure that the unjustified criminal procedure continues, adding that "the deep state has woven a tapestry of abuse of power and fraud while its monstrous octopus is after all who dare oppose it".

"This is no conspiracy theory as the media mainstream would like to picture it. It is heavily materialised organised crime, the implementation of ideas of Antonio Gramsci and Saul Alinsky how to come to power and rule past democratic procedures and institutions."

The two-tier justice system where everything is safety packed as "independent" must be reformed, because it could grind anyone. "Just think how the deep state sent Janša, the leader of the largest political party and a public figure, to prison on the back of a judicial construct before your eyes."

All our posts in this series are here

26 Mar 2021, 19:17 PM

STA, 26 March 2021 - Prime Minister Janez Janša's appearance in front of the European Parliament's democracy monitoring group was overshadowed by a row with chair Sophie in 't Veld over a video alleging journalists are biased. After In 't Veld refused to play the video during the time allotted for his statement, Janša disconnected from the videoconference.

This was the second debate of this parliamentary sub-committee about the freedom of media in Slovenia. While being invited, Janša and Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti did not take part in the first debate, and were both scheduled to appear today.

Appearing in front of a background with a number of images depicting expressions of criticism of the government and himself, Janša said that the debate was staged for the purpose of internal political affairs because it was likely of no interest to anybody outside the country.

He said that journalists in Slovenia had been beaten to death and fired while on their deathbeds, and proposed that the group watch a video about attacks on media and journalists.

This was followed by a long exchange with In 't Veld, who did not allow the video to be shown instead of Janša delivering his statement. She said the video would be forwarded to all group members to view. Janša, on the other hand, accused her of refusing to play the video because of its content.

Simoniti was scheduled to talk after Janša, but appeared to be offline and the group started the discussion. Following a question from German MEP Katarina Barley about alleged censorship at the newspaper Delo involving an opinion piece critical of the government, Janša's connection was also lost.

Janša then tweeted a link to the video and accused In 't Veld of censorship. Several sub-committee members expressed support for her decision during the debate, expressing the position that the purpose of the session was to interact with speakers and not watch videos.

The video, as shared by Janša on Twitter, lists a series of incidents targeting journalists in Slovenia. It opens and closes with the question of who really threatens democracy and the media in Slovenia.

It wonders whether journalists were truly unbiased, providing examples of journalists-come-politicians and journalists becoming spokespersons for political parties or the government. It also lists political officials who worked in the media.

It says that a big portion of Slovenian politicians "still equate journalism with propaganda. Thus they reward this activist journalism with seats in the national or European parliament," while the rare critical media are being suppressed and persecuted.

It also accuses "the Slovenian parties on the transitional left" of blaming others and exporting fabricated accusations to the EU and of "speaking of Orbanisation".

MEP Tanja Fajon, the president of the opposition Social Democrats (SD), said on Twitter that what had happened was a "disgrace for Slovenia" and the SD labelled Janša's appearance a "farce and unbecoming of a prime minister".

On the other hand, MEP Milan Zver of Janša's Democratic Party (SDS) said on Twitter that Sophie in 't Veld "censored the Slovenian prime minister" and that such a display of disrespect had never happened in the European Parliament before.

The SDS also tweeted that the video clip was censored.

MEP Ljudmila Novak of the coalition New Slovenia retweeted her recent statement in which she says that her greatest concern was Slovenia finding itself in the group of countries reproached for violating democracy, human rights and freedom of the press.

Klemen Grošelj and Irena Joveva (Renew/LMŠ) said ahead of the debate that they were concerned about what was going on in Slovenia and that the European Commission should apply all available tools to protect media freedom in the country.

18 Mar 2021, 11:51 AM

STA, 17 March 2021 - Marjan Šarec, the head of the opposition LMŠ party carrying his name, announced an impeachment of Prime Minister Janez Janša on Wednesday because Slovenia did not order the BioNTech and Pfizer vaccine in the second round of the orders last December. Šarec argues Janša thus caused direct damage to citizens and acted against the Constitution.

A report from the EU's vaccination steering board released yesterday showed Slovenia had ordered 90% of the vaccines it was entitled to in the first and second quarter of the year on a pro rata basis, and that it did not put in an order for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine during a second round of joint EU purchasing in December 2020, when an additional 100 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine were available under the first contract with the company.

Šarec said the LMŠ was puzzled why Slovenia did not order the vaccine, whether it was "speculating with prices", as the BioNTech and Pfizer vaccine was costlier than AstraZeneca, or the goal was to "prolong the epidemic endlessly".

"This has caused direct damage to the citizens and is also a violation of Article 51 of the Constitution, which speaks about the right to healthcare, so the LMŠ will use all means available to protect the rights of the citizens," Šarec pointed out.

The LMŠ head labelled the vaccination strategy inefficient and said Janša was trying to put the blame on everyone else but his team.

An impeachment against the prime minister can be filed in parliament by at least 10 MPs. Šarec is confident the entire opposition will be united on this and that it will "become clear in the National Assembly who cares about citizens and who does not".

Coordinator of the opposition Left Luka Mesec said the opposition would definitely respond to the news that Slovenia did not order as much vaccine as it could, but that it was yet to reach an agreement on which instrument would be the best.

He said he had already called a meeting of heads of opposition parties for Thursday.

Mesec said it was outrageous that the government had been looking to save EUR 5 million when the epidemic cost the country EUR 5.9 million a day and thousands of people have died.

If, however, the cost was not an issue, then the quarantine, epidemic and state of emergency suit someone in the government, as its goal has not been to fight the epidemic but to thoroughly rearrange social relations and take complete control over this country, Mesec said.

The opposition Social Democrats said they were yet to study the impeachment proposal. The party head, Tanja Fajon, said the SD would demand a session of the parliamentary Health Committee to discuss the ordering of Covid-19 vaccines. She noted that the EU had also not done everything right.

The Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and the National Party (SNS) did not comment today.

Former Health Minister Tomaž Gantar told the STA today that he had not been informed last autumn of the fact that Slovenia could have ordered additional quantities of the BioNTech and Pfizer vaccine.

A commission at the Health Ministry, which has also drawn up the vaccination strategy, was in charge of that, he said.

According to him, the commission obviously decided at the time not to order additional shots of the vaccine because it was expected that the AstraZeneca vaccine would be registered first.

Marta Grgič Vitek, the national vaccination programme coordinator, told reporters today that she was a member of the commission and that all members of the body argued as much vaccines should be ordered as Slovenia was eligible for relative to the population.

Janša told reporters in Brdo pri Kranju that Gantar or the vaccination commission could hardly be blamed for not ordering the vaccine, because at the time the move had been logical in a way. "We should have probably responded quicker, when it became clear that there are complications with this vaccine, but it was not yet clear which one will be authorised first."

He added this coincided with the "artificially created political crisis", efforts to bring down the coalition, departure of one party from the coalition and the resignation of Gantar.

The head of the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC), Zdravko Počivalšek, said he had learnt about the impeachment motion from the media and that the government had ordered enough vaccines from all producers available.

A similar statement came from Matej Tonin, the head of the coalition New Slovenia (NSi). He said the problem was not that Slovenia had ordered insufficient amount of the vaccine but that the vaccine had not been supplied. He believes the purpose of the impeachment was to divide.

11 Mar 2021, 12:45 PM

STA, 11 March 2021 - The Maribor Higher Court has dismissed a damages claim by the ruling Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) against the state over the Patria defence corruption trial a second time in a retrial, in a judgement that has become final, the newspaper Delo reported on Thursday.

The party claimed over EUR 886,000 in pecuniary damages and interest because its leader, incumbent PM Janez Janša, was sentenced to prison ahead of the 2014 general election over a 2006 defence procurement deal. His and co-defendants' convictions were overturned by the Constitutional Court in 2015.

The party argued it sustained irreparable damage through the conviction, alleging that "unlawful conduct" by the judiciary in the Patria case impacted on the party's results in the general elections in 2011 and 2014 as the events related to the trial coincided with the election campaign and elections. Janša was ordered to report in prison shortly before the snap election in 2014.

However, the Maribor Higher Court dismissed the claim again telling Delo that the judgement had become final on 5 January and enforceable on 25 February.

The Supreme Court ordered a retrial in the case last year when it annulled the Higher Court's decision to uphold the May 2018 decision by the Ljubljana District Court to dismiss the claim on the grounds that the plaintiff failed to prove unlawful conduct by judges in the trial.

The Supreme Court held that the second-instance court had failed to provide sufficient explanation why it thought the plaintiff had failed to disprove the District Court's judgement that court actions in the Patria case were in agreement with the standards in "corruption" cases valid at the time.

Janša also claims EUR 900,000 in damages himself from the state, a former prosecutor and four judges involved in the Patria case. His claim has been moved by the Supreme Court from the district court in Celje to the one in Kranj, where Delo was told a decision in the case was not to be expected soon.

Meanwhile, co-defendants have already reached settlements with the state on their claims for wrongful imprisonment.

More on the Patria case

10 Mar 2021, 10:00 AM

STA, 9 March 2021 - A European Parliament policy department service compiled an in-depth document on the situation in Slovenia in preparation for Friday's session of the Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group. The document, which is for internal use only, also details Prime Minister Janez Janša's attacks on media.

"The government's relations with the media are very tense, with the prime minister directly attacking media and individual journalists, notably by Twitter," reads the document, prepared by the service of the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

The 33-page document describes the developments in Slovenia mainly in the past year. With respect to media, it lists a long list of concerns in relation to media freedom and protection of journalists.

It notes attacks and threats, smear campaigns, prosecution of journalists and media, political and business pressures including by blocking public funds, which it says are leading to self-censorship.

The document also includes a table of attacks by the prime minister and other government representatives with hateful language against journalists and media.

"This behaviour is uncommon for leaders of European democratic states based on the rule of law and fundamental rights and respectful of the European values," reads the document.

It adds that persons in important governmental roles and representing a whole community and country are expected to strive to unite them by fostering dialogue and consensus, at all levels.

Direct and personal attacks by those in power, including by inciting others to do the same, as well as blocking or threatening to block funds for media, can be interpreted an abuse of a position of power aimed at intimidating and silencing them by exerting a chilling effect based on fear, it says.

The document also notes political influencing through media owners and the financing of Slovenian media by Hungarian companies affiliated with the ruling Fidesz party and Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

It says that Nova24TV was initially financed by members and supporters of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) but was later recapitalised by Hungarian companies, noting that Nova24TV generated a loss of over EUR 1 million in its first two years of activity, which suggested Hungarian media businessmen enabled the continued existence of the channel.

The document also writes about government officials' attacks on representatives of the judiciary and notes replacements in senior positions in the country's police, armed forces, statistics office and intelligence agency. "It was the first time that such dismissals happened without stating a cause," it reads.

The document furthermore notes pressure faced by NGOs, replacements in the leaderships of museums and procedures against government members, as well as anti-government protests and the fines faced by the protesters.

The European Parliament will discuss threats to media freedom in Hungary, Poland and Slovenia on Wednesday.

All out stories on media freedom and Slovenia

09 Mar 2021, 19:55 PM

STA, 9 March 2021 - Prime Minister Janez Janša called on the director of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), Bojan Veselinovič, to step down. "It is time for the director as a political tool of the extreme left to step down and take responsibility for his unlawful actions. And allow the STA to work and develop normally," Janša wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

The STA turned to the prime minister's office for explanation about which unlawful actions Janša was referring to. In response, the office said it would not comment additionally on the issue.

The prime minister also said in the tweet that since the STA had been led by Veselinovič, "journalists with fatal disease are being dismissed and lie is often being sold as the truth".

Janša made the statements while sharing a tweet by the head of the Government Communication Office (UKOM), Uroš Urbanija, who tweeted that Veselinovič was lying when he told the TV show Tednik on Monday that the STA did not wish to respond to UKOM's inquiries about the length of news articles.

The government said on Twitter this was "fake news".

In response, the STA published a letter by Urbanija today, sent last October, in which Urbanija asks how many interviews with pop singers had the STA published, and how long they were.

He also inquired about how the STA guaranteed that statements written by someone at the agency were being objectively reported on, whether the opinion of every employee of the agency had been obtained before one such statement, and why the STA had not published an article about this.

The letter by Urbanija came a few days after the prime minister labelled the STA a national disgrace on Twitter after learning that an interview with rapper Zlatko published by the STA was longer than the agency's article about an event featuring Janša and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban.

Urbanija also accused Veselinovič once again of concealing documents.

"Without arguments and proof the prime minister can obviously afford anything. Even abjectly abusing the deceased by means of untruthful statements that have been denied publicly on several occasions," Veselinovič said in response.

He said the comments made by Janša were unworthy of the prime minister of a country that will preside the Council of EU and celebrate its 30th anniversary this year.

The STA management has said several times that all the documents are available to the government as the legal representative of the sole shareholder of the agency. The government has not requested the documents but the UKOM has, providing no government authorisation for acting on its behalf.

The Trade Union of Slovenian Journalists denounced Janša's call for Veselinovič's resignation as unauthorised and unlawful interference in the editorial autonomy of a public information service.

The trade union added that the prime minister was also persisting in violating the legislator's clearly expressed and enacted will to provide uninterrupted financing to the STA to allow it to inform citizens in an unbiased and independent way.

The union expressed its support for the STA staff and management, urging the state again to honour its financing obligations, and the prime minister to stop stepping up uncertainty for "distinctly short-term political purposes".

The STA's operations are at risk after the financing of the public service has again been suspended in 2021 despite the provisions of the seventh coronavirus relief act, which says the STA must be funded in line with its business plan regardless of the signing of a special contract on the public services.

The STA requested for the contract to be signed at the end of 2020 but has not received a reply.

The STA receives about EUR 2 million for its public services from the state a year, which is almost half of the agency's annual revenue.

All our stories on media freedom and Slovenia

Page 7 of 21

This websie uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.