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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Romana Tomc explained to her colleagues from the EPP that Tanja Fajon forced a discussion on the alleged interference of Hungary in the media in Slovenia: This is a coordinated and politically motivated attack!

by Janja Strah

»It is absurd that oral question is based on the information of a web portal known for concealing its ownership and for being extremely hostile to the work of the Slovenian center-right government,« said Slovenian Member of the European Parliament Romana Tomc at today’s EPP meeting.

Tomorrow, at the request of S&D / SD MEP Tanja Fajon, the European Parliament will discuss the alleged Hungarian interference in the media in Slovenia and Northern Macedonia. This was discussed by the EPP parliamentary group today.

Romana Tomc explained to her colleagues from the parliamentary group that this was a »coordinated, politically motivated attack on three countries at the same time  – under the leadership of Slovenian S&D MEP Fajon«.

Here is Romana Tomc’s full discussion:

“Dear Manfred, dear colleagues,

We have on our agenda in plenary tomorrow, oral question to the Commission on Hungarian interference in media in Slovenia and Northern Macedonia. I will take this opportunity today to talk to you and explainin the situation.

This is clearly a coordinated, politically motivated attack on three countries at the same time  – under the leadership of Slovenian S&D MEP Fajon. It is set with the intention of interfering in internal affairs and discrediting the Slovenian government. It is absurd that oral question is based on the information of a web portal known for concealing its ownership and for being extremely hostile to the work of the Slovenian center right government.

The fact is, that the portal was established almost simultaneously when the government took office and that the vast majority of articles are intended exclusively to slander the current Slovenian coalition. Journalists writing for this portal have already been convicted by the Journalists’ Court of Honor.  

Another indicator, that we are dealing with a clearly politically motivated attack, is the fact, that the news is based on an event, that happened in May of 2018. This is over two and a half years ago. Long ago before the portal has been established. Based on previously stated facts, it is clear that the source of the Oral question cannot be considered as a credible one.

Regarding the media in Slovenia in general.

The fact is that we have serious problems with  the media landscape.  This is not a consequence of the center-right government, which took office in March this year. This has a long, long history.

The maedia landscape has been completely unbalanced from our independence on. The monopolies that have been formed in 30 years in all areas – in the economy, in the judiciary system and everywhere else, are in the hands of the left.  Even today, they claim themselves as a proud succesors of comunists.

The media are part of these monopolies for years as well. They, at least the majority of the main stream media, have never been independent. It is clear that any attempts to break the monopolies, the left shall defend by all means.

I am sorry to disappoint you but the objective journalism in Slovenia is a myth. We are witnessing fan-based, dishonest journalism, which also causes a problem in the implementation of democratic processes in the country. In these days when media is so crusical to help curbing the spread of the virus, in many cases they are demolishing the efforts of the government by promoting disrespect of the rules. 

A particular problem is national television and radio, which would be expected to be independent. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

We have various foreign owners of the media in Slovenia, from Austrian, American, and Swedish to Czech owners. We also have Hungarian owners, but those are in large minority. By market share, completely irrelevant. The dominant media that are owned by Slovenians are mostly in the hands of the left tycoon elite. Left-wing governments have allowed the tremendous concentration and have given them the power to overthrow any government that does not suit them.

Even the European Commission in its report noted a great deal of non-transparency in the media ownership in Slovenia. The left do not want anyone to expose corruption under their governments. The media power of the left is almost absolute. That is why those few non – left media that are struggling in this unbalanced media space are extremely important. The information that people get online is also very important because it cannot be censored.

I believe that it could be difficult for some colleagues to understand that there is a country in the middle of the EU where the media space is so unbalanced. However, you need to accept the fact that the situation in countries could be different from what you see in your country. And Slovenia is a perfect example of the monopoly of the left media and with right government.

In the European Parliament, we often discuss media freedom and media pluralism, based on the assumption that the media and journalists are independent. It is sometimes difficult for me to vote for the reports that idealize the situation – simply due to my awareness about the situation in my own country. I wish that the anomalies we are experiencing in Slovenia could be discussed within the EPP group one day.

I strongly support the Commission’s efforts and the Rule Of Law report. We, the center right parties in Slovenia,  put all our cards on this report with the hope of revealing the real situation. We just strive for the truth. If so, then we will probably all together realize that changes are needed. Moreover, these changes would not be the destruction of independent media but quite the opposite. The would mean an attempt to make the media space better, more transparent and more balanced.

Finally yet importantly, since there has been a lot of talk about Slovenia lately, I would like to point out another thing. Let me just add that I am glad that the Prime Minister Janez Janša has taken an active initiative to help to resolve the really difficult situation in which we found ourselves in the case of MFF and RRF. To be clear. It is not about opposing the decision of the parliament, but about trying to build a bridge. It is the call for compromise. This is also in the interest of the German presidency, Chancellor Merkel pointed out, among other things last week.

Dear colleagues, to conclude

I want to get back to where I started. Today we are facing one of the biggest crisis that the European Union has ever seen. People are dying; European economy is fighting to survive. We can oly win tohether. To spend our time for such cases as is this Oral Question is therefore an insult to the European Parliament.”

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