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Director of the Government Communication Office: Director Veselinovič Is Trying to Delay the Whole Procedure With the Lawsuits and Does Not Want to Solve the STA Situation

By: Nina Žoher / Nova24tv

“There has been no payment because the public service was not provided. You cannot charge for the same thing twice,” said Uroš Urbanija, director of the Government Communication Office in a show on Nova24TV, in response to the question of why the Slovenian Press Agency has still not received payment after the Supreme Court sided with the Government Communication Office in the court case.

The Supreme Court annulled the suspension of the decree on the financing of the public service provided by the Slovenian Press Agency (Slovenska tiskovna agencija – hereinafter referred to as the STA). The court’s decision notes, among other things, that the STA has failed to demonstrate that it should have received state compensation simply by temporarily suspending the decree. The court also wrote that according to the law, the Republic of Slovenia is obliged to provide financing to the STA for the year 2021, in accordance with the business plan. After the court published its decision on annulling the suspension of the government’s decree on the financing of the STA, director of the Government Communication Office, Uroš Urbanija, wrote on Twitter that the court had apparently accepted the Communication Office’s arguments.

“However, when I read the news article related to this matter on the STA website, I was surprised. Namely, the article was written in a way where, at first glance, one could easily understand the whole situation as if the STA had won the court battle. But in reality, the situation is very clear. The Supreme Court granted the appellant’s request, so it sided with our Communication Office and lifted the temporary suspension of the government’s official decree, which determines the financing of the STA,” Urbanija explained on the show Tema dneva (Topic of the Day) on Nova24TV.

STA director Bojan Veselinovič. (Photo: STA)

In June, the government adopted a decree authorising the Government Communication Office to regulate funding and enter into a contract with the STA regarding the public service funding. The Communication Office prepared the contract, but surprisingly, at the end of July, the STA director Bojan Veselinovič requested a temporary suspension of this decree. According to Urbanija, the first instance court ruled in Veselinovič’s favour at the time. “Director Veselinovič interpreted this as his great victory in court. The Government Communication Office appealed to the decision of the first instance court, and on Monday, the Supreme Court ruled to lift the suspension of the government decree. Thus, the government decree is now back in force. In this situation, any other interpretation than the truth is ridiculous and make no sense,” said Urbanija.

You cannot charge twice for the same service
The fact that the Republic of Slovenia is obliged by law to provide financing for the STA for the year 2021 has never been disputed. According to Urbanija, this is determined by law, as well as the Seventh Anti-Corona Legislative Package. “The founder is obliged to pay the STA for its performance of public service – by law. And what is considered public service is defined in the Slovenian Press Agency Act. But the question now is whether the STA is performing public service at all. In June, surprisingly, director Veselinovič began publishing a warning under all the elements that the act deems to be part of the provision of public service, in which it was written that no one may use the public services unless he concludes a marketing contract with the STA. This is an obvious violation of the Slovenian Press Agency Act, which requires the STA to provide the public services free of charge to everyone under the same conditions.”

When asked when the payment will be made, Urbanija explained that there will be no payment because the public service has not been provided. “You cannot charge for the same service twice. Our first request, our first condition, is that this matter be regulated in accordance with the law. We cannot discuss and change legal matters.  We cannot talk about whether this state-paid service can be resold on the market by the STA. That is inadmissible and illegal,” Urbanija was clear, adding that now that the suspension of the decree has been revoked, he expects the STA director to immediately sign the contract regulating the situation, which could have been resolved months ago. “If this contract had already been signed by the STA in July, the STA would have received 840 thousand euros by now, in accordance with the contract, as an advance for the performance of the public service that was supposed to be provided. Then, at the same time, the monthly payment for the performance of the public service would have also begun.”

Considering that, following the Supreme Court’s decision, the SD president Tanja Fajon said that the situation was a disgrace and that she expected the resignation of the Government Communication Office’s director, Urbanija pointed out that she is obviously very poorly informed, which she also proved in the recent episode of the show Tarča (Target) on RTV Slovenia. “If you read the ruling of the Supreme Court and see that the Government Communication Office had won another one of the court battles, you would expect that the SD president would call on Veselinovič, who was appointed by the government which was led by the SD party, to resign – and not me,” said Urbanija, adding that it is evident that Veselinovič is trying to delay the entire procedure with lawsuits and does not want to solve the STA situation in a way that would benefit the employees of the Agency.

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