On March 31st, 2021, an interview with the editor-in-chief of Demokracija magazine, Jože Biščak, was published on the Hungarian web portal Magyar Hírlap. The conversation focused on the political and media landscape in Slovenia as well as in the European Union.
In the following we present an interview with the editor-in-chief of Demokracija, Jože Biščak, which was first published on Magyar Hírlap.
The situation in the field of media freedom in Hungary, Poland and Slovenia was recently discussed in the European Parliament. The main allegations are that the media situation in these countries is deteriorating, that governments are trying to subdue the media, that attacks on journalists and editors are occurring. How do you see this issue in Slovenia?
I was really surprised when I listened to the accusations and read about these accusations against Slovenia.
What is media freedom anyway? Freedom of the media means that anyone can publish the media, that everyone can spread and express their views and opinions without being restricted or even prevented from spreading the media by the public. And the authorities in Slovenia have not banned any media from publishing or broadcasting. The media in Slovenia are free, they report on everything. No medium is threatened by any prosecution because of this. If anyone has threatened the media, it was (the last example) the left-wing government of Marjan Šarec, which in 2018 threatened the conservative media by urging state-owned companies not to advertise in conservative media that allegedly spread hatred. However, the current Janša’s government did not interfere with the media in such a way, nor in any other way.
On what basis, then, does Brussels believe that the media in Slovenia are not free?
The point is that we have a very unbalanced media space in Slovenia. About 85 percent of the media is in the hands of tycoons and oligarchs who more or less openly support the left ideology. These media also control all the important media-related organizations and subsystems, they are favored by virtually all NGOs that have been funded or are still funded by the money of George Soros, who is, at least for me, one of the biggest political pests. In addition, all major international journalistic organizations are in favor of or under the influence of left-wing ideology. When all this is combined and false and manipulative complaints and accusations against the Slovenian government are sent to Brussels, the impression is created that something is really wrong. Well, it is not.
There is not a single case when a journalist would be fired due to Janša’s views, views and criticism of individual media. However, there are cases when tycoons, who are the majority owners of the media in Slovenia, brutally dismiss their journalists, who are left without safety, without protection of their rights. These same media are »collegially« silent about this. There is not a single case of a journalist being in court due to opinions about Janša. There is not a single case where the authorities physically deal with journalists, threaten them and make them fear and tremble. On the other hand, I personally, as the editor of the conservative magazine Demokracija, have been in seven pre-trial proceedings for expressing conservative views. Complaints against me were filed by either NGOs or left-wing journalist organizations.
In Slovenia, are you disappointed because you joined the European Union in 2004, which is now preaching to you what you can and cannot do?
I will not say that I am disappointed, but I will make it clear that Slovenia has joined the European Union in the belief that membership in the Union means, above all, access to markets, in economic terms. That is, free trade that brings prosperity and progress to citizens. Unfortunately, the European Union is turning into a the breeding ground of a globalist bureaucratic elite that imagines that it can command and preach to sovereign states which government and ideology are good and which are bad.
Recently, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša in Brussels wanted to present his side of the coin on the rule of law and media freedom in Slovenia, which is diametrically opposed to the accusations of leftists, with concrete data and concrete examples (by presenting a video). And Sophie in ’t Veld, head of the Group for Monitoring Respect for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights, simply censored him and withdrew playing of the video. Who is an autocrat now? Who? Certainly not Janez Janša, but Sophie in ’t Veld proved to be the one who organized the debate only to get confirmation for her pre-prepared opinions and views, and not to hear another opinion. I am proud of my Prime Minister for leaving the debate because of this censorship. Well, no, well-paid bureaucrats will certainly not preach to us about freedom and democracy, especially not those who have never lived under communism and never faced what a dictatorship is where the media is not free. We have won our own freedom, we have won our own democracy and we owe nothing to people like Sophie in ’t Veld. Not to her, not to the European Union.
Slovenia did not receive the support of the entire EPP group, which includes the SDS party led by Janez Janša. Could it be that the SDS would leave the EPP, as Fidesz did?
In a short time, I don’t think so. But if the trend of accusations by some individuals in the EPP continues, I do not rule anything out. However, I am afraid that the EPP is moving away from the values it has advocated and is getting closer to the views of liberal democracy.
There is a lot of talk about the fundamental values of the European Union. What are these core values for you?
It seems that leftists are constantly inventing new and new »values«, which are then imposed through Brussels on conservative countries or conservative governments, which are, it should be emphasized, completely legitimate and elected in elections.
The fundamental values of the European Union are: the nuclear family, the nation, the preservation of national culture and identity, Christianity, tradition and freedom in general. Left-wing elites want to eradicate the roots of these values from Europe, they want to break our umbilical cord with Europe’s glorious past, they want to destroy everything we grew up on and what was sacred to us. And it is still sacred to us. On the other hand, we are witnessing »rainbow« experiments, illegal migration and the culture of death brought about by leftist ideology.
I say, thank God, that there are men in Europe like Janez Janša and Viktor Orban who resist this violent change in Europe’s values and are loyal to their views and the values of the nation that elected them.
Jože Biščak is the editor-in-chief of the conservative-oriented magazine Demokracija, president of the Slovenian Association of Patriotic Journalists and author of the books Zgodbe iz Kavarne Hayek (Stories from the Hayek Café), Zapisi konservativnega liberalca (Records of a Conservative Liberal) in Potovati z Orwellom (Traveling with Orwell).