An open letter to Mr. Udo Bullmann, the leader of the S&D Group in the European Parliament: You missed an opportunity in Slovenia to stress that media freedom applies to everyone equally!

Mr. Jože Biščak, editor-in-chief of the magazine Demokracija (left) and Mr. Udo Bullmann, the leader of the S&D Group in the European Parliament (right). (Phodo: Demokracija)

Dear Mr. Udo Bullmann,

I am writing to you because you were in Slovenia supporting the candidature for the European Parliament elections of the Vice-President of your group in the European Parliament, Ms. Tanja Fajon, and her SD party. As the newspaper Večer reported, during your visit you emphasized that we must defend our freedom in Europe and that no regime should prevent the expression of opinions. Despite the fact that we have different views on the whole range of issues that contemporary Europe is dealing with, I could not agree more with you. But what you stated must apply to everyone equally, irrespective of the ideological differences and variances in different values between individuals and groups. Unfortunately, you missed the opportunity to express this explicitly.

Your statement refers only to the Hungarian protest note to the Slovenian Foreign Ministry due to the cover page of the magazine Mladina. I do not mean to write about this issue, because you are obviously acquainted with it (although unilaterally), I just want to inform you that you are receiving selective information about pressures on the media in Slovenia, which have nothing to do with freedom and democracy. As the editor-in-chief of the right-oriented magazine Demokracija, the law enforcement agencies have questioned me three times about the contents of the magazine and its covers, threatens to persecute me, and each case could sentence me to two years imprisonment. This issue in Slovenia went so far, that the Prime Minister Marjan Šarec last autumn warned state owned companies not to advertise in media which is spreading hate. In Slovenia the term “spreading hate” means that you do not share the same views nor do you share the same values as the left political parties. And it did not stop there. The then Minister of Culture announced a tightening on media legislation to punish and subdue disobedient media. Both actions were directed against our magazine, which over the course of the past few months has put a great amount of pressure on us. I am asking you: Is this normal? Is this freedom? Is this the freedom of the press? Is it democratic? Is this in spirit of European values, of which your parliamentary group has so much to say about, but only when it is necessary to attack sovereign states, such as Poland and Hungary?

All this is happening to the Demokracija magazine, which is de facto the opposition, because the editorial board does not share values with the Prime Minister Marjan Šarec and his coalition partners, including SD, your partner in the S&D Group. The youth of this party advocates freedom of speech and media with a proposal for founding the internet police. And this party does not hide the sympathy for the former communist regime, which at the time of the socialist dictatorship had inflicted more Slovenes than the Nazism, and which, due to different standpoints, had killed more civilians than fascism.

Personally, I have always supported freedom of speech, which I understand in its original, primal sense as an absolute human right. I do not agree with political pressures on media, but if anyone nowadays is under pressure from the authorities in Slovenia, it is the magazine Demokracija. So I ask you, what will you say about the actions taken by the government led by Šarec, described above? Will you at all? Next time before you jump the gun, first do your research on the situation in Slovenia, so that you avoid looking like a hypocrite. But above all, sit down, take a deep breath, think carefully, get familiar with all the circumstances, and only then allow your brain neurons to start skipping. I believe that this is not easy and that with it exists the possibility to offend your party comrades. Nevertheless, I hope that in the future you will not miss the opportunity, when talking about freedom of speech, if you are talking about it, to defend the freedom of all media, not just those who are ideologically close to you. After all, you are coming from a democratic country, dissimilar to Slovenia that has a rather young democracy (at least on the declarative level).

Freedom of speech either is or is not. There is media freedom or there is not. And there is nothing in between. It is not possible something that is considered an attack on freedom of speech in one EU country, the same something to be considered as hate speech in another EU country. Freedom of speech (and with it freedom of the media) is an absolute human right, an inalienable elementary human right, one of the greatest achievements in the field of human rights, on which democratic systems are founded. Tell Tanja Fajon, explain it to her in a way so that she as well will understand, that there is no freedom of speech, if it only applies when the left is speaking, but when someone else does it out of the opposite ideological pole, that freedom of speech disappears. Above all, tell her that changing the Slovenian legislation in a manner that penalizes and dampens the media that disagrees with the ruling (left) regime, and the government appeals to companies not to advertise in certain media outlets, has nothing to do with the freedom, about which she likes to speak so much. Her vocabulary is in fact the vocabulary of a dictator, her words are worse than poisoned arrows, and the filter she has between the brain and mouth only exists when it benefits political and financial interests of her political comrades and globalist elites.

With respect,

Jože Biščak, editor-in-chief of the magazine Demokracija

(Translated by M.Š.S.)