The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia is responding to the report by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) on the state of democracy in Slovenia.
The report’s conclusion states that the Minister for Culture did not wish to attend the meeting with the committee. This is not the case. The Ministry of Culture intended to meet with the delegation. The Ministry wanted the meeting to be recorded, but the delegation rejected this. It is also clear that the committee’s staff recorded the minutes of the meeting on their own as the report includes details from every meeting. It is therefore utterly unreasonable that the Ministry is forbidden from making a recording for the purpose of having internal minutes.
The Ministry of Culture understands that such meetings are of an internal nature, i.e. without the presence of the media or public, although it is above all politicians who must strive for as much openness to the public as possible, at all levels. At the same time, we believe that there are no reasons why recording should not be allowed for internal needs. Such a decision by the European Parliament delegation seems unreasonable as this would reduce an official meeting to the level of a secret informal conversation, which is something which the Ministry as an institution cannot accept. It is for this reason that we cancelled the meeting with the delegation.
We must also emphasise that the report, despite the extensive editing it underwent, at least in the part mentioning the Ministry of Culture and its competences, is surprisingly inaccurate. It states that the government wishes to improve the transparency of media ownership and prevent harmful media concentration by means of the new Audiovisual Media Services Act (ZAvMS). This act has nothing to do with media concentration as it deals with the technical implementation of the European directive into Slovenian law. The Ministry of Culture has prepared solutions for the problem of media ownership concentration in a new Mass Media Act. We are surprised that the committee does not understand such basic facts. After all, the ZAvMS is the implementation of European legislation, which MEPs should be very familiar with.
We do welcome the final conclusion that the institutions are operating well, but firmly reject the theory put forward by some participants during conversations, that the government is exerting pressure on public institutions and the media with defamation, slander, prosecutions and even strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP).
There is no concrete evidence for such absurd claims and we ascribe them to politically motivated persons and representatives of Slovenia’s political opposition who had – for a reason that has never been explained – access to the editing of the final report, despite the fact that they did not participate in the mission and despite having a political motive to give misleading information and thereby smear the government and also Slovenia. The fact that such unauthorised editing of material has been carried out by the political opponents of the present government shows that our doubts about the correctness of the report were justified. It also shows that our demand for the Minister’s meeting with the European Parliament delegation to be recorded was justified.