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Monday, August 15, 2022

Open letter from Jože Biščak and Vinko Vasle to the International Press Institute (IPI): When you write about media freedom in Slovenia, it seems that you write about a parallel, non-existent world. Your writing is so manipulative and one-sided that

Your latest writing on the media in Slovenia, entitled New Administration, Old Agenda (HERE), is nothing new on your part, much less is surprising. You are repeating what you wrote back in March (HERE). And again, you fell into a typically political pamphlet, which has very little to do with the real events in the field of media in Slovenia. Which is understandable in a way, as the writers of your reporter, Jamie Wiseman, have obviously been very carefully selected. God forbid that you would contact any of the worldview conservative writers, right?

But let’s leave that aside for now. Who you choose as interlocutors is your business. It is your free choice, of course. Only then do not pretend to be some independent global institute, but write it down clearly: We support exclusively media that are ideologically inclined to the left. And, forgive me, if we would say ’media that are inclined to liberal democracy’ that would be an insult to the original meaning of liberal democracy.

In fact, we wouldn’t have even responded if there weren’t some extreme lies and manipulations in the text, and if those weren’t light years away from reality. In other words. The text seems to speak of some kind of parallel world. And we really can’t get past that. So, in short.

First, something about the tone and undertone of the text itself. When reading Wiseman’s writing, a random reader (or an alien from Mars) would think that in Slovenia, from the beginning of the Janez Janša (SDS) government, critical journalists are persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, censored and almost put in front of a firing squad. None of this is true. In Slovenia, everyone is guaranteed freedom of speech and freedom in general. No one was persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, censored. However, if someone criticizes media and journalist reporting (including those you refer to), it is something completely normal, an expression of plurality, openness and a free public. Neither the media nor journalists are exempt from criticism. It is true, however, that most Slovenian media were used to live in a soap bubble, they wanted to be untouchable. And in this sense, the Prime Minister also has every right to express criticism.

Second. You are quoting Primož Cirman, editor of the Necenzurirano (Uncensored) website. He says previous (left) governments respected freedom of the press and that there were no attacks on journalists. That, of course, is a lie. The magazine Demokracija and I personally, as the editor-in-chief of the magazine, have been subjected to numerous harassments and threats by left-wing governments. At the moment, I am in six pre-trial proceedings because of the written and spoken words, and these proceedings are from the time when the government was led by the “liberal democrat” Marjan Šarec (today ideologically completely entered socialism). We ask you, where were you then? You were quiet! And on. Have you been informed that in the autumn of 2018, Marjan Šarec “recommended” to the management of state-owned companies not to advertise in Demokracija? It was not just a direct attack on freedom of speech and expression, it was a direct threat with abuse of power. The same journalists you are referring to, who are grumbling and moaning today, applauded that move at the time. They referred to alleged hate speech, which, however, has not yet been proven by anyone. You will probably agree that you can only be convicted of allegedly insulting words by a court that is an independent branch of government. So we asks you again: Where, for God’s sake, were you then? Yeah, you were quiet. Shame on you. And on top of all that, the Slovene Association of Journalists (DNS), to which you refer to, has charged us for criticizing Šarec’s government and migration. This association is now talking about freedom of speech, while two years ago it was helping the left-wing government to suppress that freedom. It is not clear to you who you choose as your interlocutor.

Third and last time. You are writing about the public national television (RTV Slovenia), which is allegedly attacked by the Janša government. Janez Janša does not attack public television, but he is critical of it. Just read this text and it will be clear to you: HERE. And you can read the truth about the new media legislation HERE.

Joze Biscak, editor-in-chief of Democracija magazine, and Vinko Vasle, longtime journalist and editor and former director of Radio Slovenia.

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