Home Important Member of the European Parliament Delegation, Romana Tomc, Revealed Some Unusual Practices...

Member of the European Parliament Delegation, Romana Tomc, Revealed Some Unusual Practices of the Sophie in ‘t Veld’s Mission

EP MEP Romana Tomc (Photo: Tamara Bizjak)

By: Sara Bertoncelj / Nova24tv

Sophie in ‘t Veld’s delegation’s mission to Slovenia was actually quite a mystery. It was virtually impossible to get a list of the people who were invited to the meetings at all, and if one did manage to get a list, it later turned out to be wrong. Slovenian MEP Romana Tomc also pointed out that the interviews with the invited guests were of internal nature, so no one had the opportunity to find out what the individuals talked about, nor what they asked. “It seems quite unusual to me; I was told this is normal – I could not discuss or comment on the discussions, I was only able to ask questions,” she was critical. As we have previously reported, the discussions were not even allowed to be recorded; Sophie in ‘t Veld said at the press conference that the Ministry of Culture did not make this request at all – which is, of course, not true, as the Minister pointed out that this was the exact reason why they turned down the invitation to participate.

The fact-finding mission came to Slovenia with the aim of establishing facts about the rule of law and the media. MEP Romana Tomc pointed out that the members of the delegation learned a lot but nevertheless did not really get a complete picture. She explained that it is understandable that some European colleagues do not know the situation in Slovenia very well. Therefore, they also cannot know what the things are – very important things – that have not been said at all. “Even after this mission, it will be very difficult to understand the complicated situation in Slovenia and the reasons that caused it,” she said, adding that it was quite unusual for the delegation to not be able to discuss and comment on the debates. Instead, they were only able to ask questions – preferably as short as possible. The inability to respond was particularly restrictive, she said, especially when the guests’ answers were misleading or when they withheld essential information that could have shed some relevant light on the situation. “Significantly more time was allocated to the guests who criticised the government. The unbalanced composition of those invited proved to be a particular problem,” she added.

Journalist Bojan Požar and others, who could have spoken credibly about the rule of law and the state of the media in Slovenia and who Tomc proposed as guests, were rejected without an explanation. Because the interviews with the invitees were closed, no one had a chance to find out what the individuals said or what they were asked. “It is not clear what all of the mystery is about since this was not about internal political matters. The lack of transparency certainly creates the possibility of making up one’s own explanations and conclusions,” Tomc was critical of the interviews, adding that all of this raised doubts that the mission was not created with the sincere desire to find out what the true state the rule of law and the media is in Slovenia. “It would not be good for the mission if it turned out to be just one of the steps in the scenario of preparing a resolution against Slovenia in the European Parliament,” she said, adding that she hoped that the final report would be fair and balanced and that the very important messages, conveyed by Žiga Turk, Jože Možina, Rok Čakš, Borut Rojc, Matej Avbelj, Alojz Kovšca and Andrej Grah Whatmough would also have a place in the report. “The essential message of this mission is that the institutions in Slovenia are working well and that they are facing similar problems as the institutions in all other EU countries,” said MEP Romana Tomc.

Did the “dialogue of the deaf” also occur between the MEP and the other participants?
The mission did not find any significant systemic violations by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, which would require action by the European Commission or the European Parliament, which was clearly stated by Sophie in ‘t Veld as well. At a press conference at the end of the mission, she also said that representatives of four institutions in Slovenia were concerned about the independence of said institutions. However, she only listed two, namely, the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption and the Court of Audit. In ‘t Veld also said that she is particularly worried about polarisation, as she has noticed that there are two camps in Slovenia and that there is a high level of division between them – which leads to a dialogue of the deaf and to an erosion of confidence in the democratic order. She also wondered whether it was appropriate for the government to continue to rule by decrees at this stage. She stressed that when it comes to attacks on journalists, she does not care whose journalist is being attacked; however, she did not explain why it was mainly the representatives of the left-wing media or institutions that were invited to the interviews. When asked why the Ministry of Culture was not allowed to record the discussion – this was their condition for attending the meeting at all – Sophie in ‘t Veld replied that the Ministry did not request this at all, but instead only wanted to have a copy of the recording – which they, of course, did not have, because they did not record any of the conversations. However, Minister Vasko Simoniti clearly stated that they wanted to record the conversation, at least for internal use.

We also asked some of the participants what it was like at the interviews. Former Minister Dr Žiga Turk told us that each of the participants gave a brief introduction, which was followed by two rounds of questions. The whole thing lasted for about an hour – the conversation on the part of the MEPs was correct.  He tried to explain the same things he explained in his two columns for Euractiv, he added. Lawyer and professor Dr Matej Avbelj told us that the conversation was correct but very general, and limited, in particular, to posts on Twitter, which he does not even follow. “The rule of law as a systemic legal problem in Slovenia, to which I myself also drew attention in the past, was practically not discussed – I believe that happened because people who are not lawyers generally do not really understand this problem. I presented my otherwise publicly known views clearly. The delegation took note of them,” he added.

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