By: Sara Kovač / Nova24tv
“The Chairwoman took a completely arbitrary decision to invite two ministers of the Slovenian government to the session. The fact is that the government is advocating changes to the Radio-Television Slovenia law that were made according to its own criteria, so the two ministers that have been invited will, in all likelihood, advocate changes to the law, which will lead to the complete politicisation of the national media outlet RTV. It is likely that the ministers will use misleading arguments…” MEP Romana Tomc pointed out in a letter to Sophie in’t Veld, Chair of the LIBE Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group (DRFMG), adding that the representatives of the opposition, the proposers of the Radio-Television Slovenia referendum, were not invited to the session.
On Friday, a session of the Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group in the Member States of the European Union, chaired by MEP Sophie in’t Veld, has been convened to exchange views on the situation in Slovenia – specifically on what is happening at the national media outlet Radio-Television Slovenia.
As the Slovenian MEP Romana Tomc pointed out, she welcomes this type of debate, but she also listed some concerns. Firstly, it is unusual that the session is convened after the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, as this makes it very difficult for MEPs to attend it, and it is also unusual that the session will be held behind closed doors, which makes it impossible for the public to attend and thus for democratic scrutiny to take place.
An arbitration panel would give the wrong impression about the facts
Romana Tomc pointed to the list of those who were invited to participate in the debate as guests as the most problematic part. To her knowledge, chairwoman Sophie in’t Veld had not consulted the other members of the group on who to invite and had arbitrarily invited two ministers of the current Slovenian government to join the session, who will, in all likelihood, use the meeting to advocate changes to the law, leading to the complete politicisation of broadcasting. It is likely that the two ministers will use misleading arguments and make claims that the new Radio-Television Slovenia Act will depoliticise RTV when in fact, the opposite is true, as many experts have already warned.
Member of the European Parliament from the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS) stressed that the chairwoman should have taken into account the initiators, who had collected 40 thousand signatures for the referendum, which would have allowed for an actual balanced debate. “The list of invitees also gives the impression that the chairwoman does not want to hear any views that do not align with her own, which is a clear violation of all democratic standards.” Therefore, Romana Tomc proposed that in’t Veld move the meeting to a more appropriate date, invite other guests to present relevant information, and allow the event to be broadcast to the public.
Romana Tomc’s letter was brought to the attention of the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, leader of the European People’s Party, Manfred Weber, Chairman of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, and coordinator of the LIBE committee, Jeroen Lenaers.