EP to debate on media situation in Slovenia this afternoon

EP to debate on media situation in Slovenia this afternoon

The European Parliament will debate on media freedom in Slovenia at a plenary session on Wednesday afternoon, after an initially planned discussion on government attempts at silencing free media in Poland and Hungary was expanded to include Slovenia. No resolution is expected to be passed, according to reports by Slovenian media.

A European Parliament policy department service compiled an in-depth document on the situation in Slovenia in preparation of the Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group’s session scheduled for Friday. 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 via Twitter,” reads the document drawn up by the service of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

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

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

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

“This behaviour is uncommon for leaders of European democratic states based on the rule of law, the fundamental rights and respect toward the European values,” reads the document.

It adds that prominent government figures representing communities and the country in its entirety are expected to strive to unite them by fostering dialogue and consensus at all levels.

Direct and personal attacks by those in power, often by inciting others to follow suit, as well as by blocking or threatening to block funds for media, can be interpreted as an abuse of power aimed at intimidating and silencing them by exerting a chilling effect based on fear, the report underlines.

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

It is underscored 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 €1 million in its first two years of activity, suggesting that Hungarian media tycoons enabled the continued existence of the channel.

The document also cites government officials’ attacks on representatives of the judiciary and notes replacements in senior positions in the country’s police, the armed forces, the statistics office and the intelligence agency. “It was the first time that such dismissals occurred without stating a cause,” it is noted.

The document furthermore underlines the 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. /ibna