By: Andrej Žitnik (Nova24tv)
Throughout the two years of the Janša government, European Commissioner for Values and Transparency and Vice-President of the European Commission, Vera Jourová, was known as a European functionary whose rhetoric was very similar to that of the Slovenian far-left activists in the media, academia and politics, who exported fabricated stories to Brussels about the “repression” of the media. No matter how many times Janša’s ministers talked to her and explained the details of the Slovenian situation and the Slovenian media landscape (and she pretended to listen and understand everything), she kept on repeating the one-liners she had heard from activists who were trying to bring down the Janša government.
Although Slovenian MEP Romana Tomc met with Commissioner Jourová and personally explained to her the danger posed to the public institution Radio-Television Slovenia and to Slovenian free journalism in general by the Golob government’s law on RTV Slovenia, the Commissioner spoke to the media soon after that and said, regarding the law in question, that she supported it because it was an important step for media freedom. Despite the fact that she had previously heard how the law had been adopted under the urgent procedure without any justification (which had even been pointed out by the Legislative and Legal Service of the National Assembly) and that it was a blatant conspiracy by the ruling politicians and civil society loyal to them, which had been representing it on the streets for two years.
She also told all Slovenian journalists, when presenting the draft law on freedom of the media, that “they could soon be better protected from attacks and obstacles that prevent them from freely carrying out their work” – that is to say, she prejudged her opinion that journalists in Slovenia were under threat under the Janša government. She also said that “the Act also guarantees stable funding for public media such as the Slovenian Press Agency,” even though ministers of the Janša government, as well as MEP Romana Tomc, have repeatedly explained to her in great detail the issue of the Slovenian Press Agency’s funding and why long-term funding was never actually been threatened.
It is very important that Jourová’s voice, which is, in fact, the voice of Slovenian media activists, is not isolated in Europe and that the European Union finally realises for itself what the Golob government’s real intentions are with the new Radio-Television Slovenia Act, and also how brutally the government wants to subjugate and suppress the private media. In this respect, the defining moment was when Manfred Weber, leader of the European conservatives and President of the largest party family in the European Parliament (European People’s Party – EPP), faced Golob with the truth in the European Parliament and told him that the attempted blatant subjugation of the public media, which the Golob government has allowed itself to do, is unacceptable.
However, it is also important that Commissioner Jourová is kept up-to-date on what is happening in Slovenia. Therefore, MEP Romana Tomc wrote her a public letter on the occasion of Jourová’s visit to Slovenia, which we are publishing in its entirety below:
“Dear Commissioner Vera Jourová,
I am delighted that you have decided to visit Slovenia. Especially because you have been very concerned in the past about the state of the Slovenian media. Unfortunately, many more reasons for concern are arising every day. The attempt to politically subjugate public broadcasting is well under way, and even the Constitutional Court has put a hold on this process with its recent decision to temporarily suspend the implementation of the new law.
The European Commission pays great attention to media freedom, which is also reflected in the proposal for new European legislation to protect media freedom. You yourself also regularly condemn all attempts to politically subjugate the media, and we have therefore followed with astonishment your statements which suggested that you approve of the unacceptable interference of the current government coalition in the operation of RTV Slovenia.
I would like to believe that your support for the new Radio-Television Slovenia Act was the result of a lack of information, and not the result of any political affiliation to the government of Robert Golob. The European Commission is supposed to act in a professional and impartial manner, on the basis of the same criteria and standards for all. If its decisions depended on the political allegiance of one Commissioner or another, or of one government or another, the credibility of the Commission would be severely undermined.
Your visit is a good opportunity for you to personally find out more about the facts in the situation and get the full picture. But this is only possible if you look for information on all sides. Certainly, statements about the unsustainable state of affairs at RTV must be taken with a grain of salt if they are made by journalists whose political preferences are very clear.
Particular attention should also be paid to the unusually large number of journalists who, immediately after the current government took office, moved from the ranks of journalists to the government ranks or became party officials and even politicians, and who now use their political power to investigate media outlets that are critical of them. I trust that you will also personally stand up for journalists who want to report independently and who are therefore harassed by their colleagues because they are the victims of the media’s bias in Slovenia. I hope that you will use your visit to get a realistic assessment of the situation in the Slovenian media and also of the state of the rule of law. We, the citizens of Slovenia, want to live in a state governed by the rule of law that is equal for all, and we want to have a national media outlet that is objective and politically neutral.
We expect the European Commission to do everything within its powers to make this possible. I also expect you to give a clear definition of the government’s attempts to influence the media.
I wish you a successful visit and send you warm greetings,
Romana Tomc, Member of the European Parliament”