By: Sara Bertoncelj / Nova24tv
European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova pointed out that the commission had closely followed recent developments in Slovenia, including the legal proceedings and discussions on the new public service contract, reports the Slovenian Press Agency (Slovenska tiskovan agencija – referred to as the STA). “We understand that, under Slovenian national law, it is the duty of the Slovenian government to ensure the independence and the appropriate funding for the public service provided by STA and that this has been recently confirmed by the Slovenian Supreme Court,” she wrote, adding that, in their opinion, this obligation applies irrespective of the eventual conclusion of a public service contract. Uroš Urbanija, director of the Government Communication Office, commented on her letter, saying, among other things, it was the STA that had opposed the decree in court; otherwise, the financing would have already been regulated in July.
“The Slovenian Supreme Court has recently confirmed that, in accordance with national law, the government is obliged to ensure the independence and adequate funding of the public service, provided by the STA,” the STA reported on Friday, adding that the European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova wrote in a letter to Minister of Culture Dr Vasko Simoniti that this obligation applies regardless of whether the contract has been concluded or not. Director of the Government Communication Office, Uroš Urbanija, wrote that Ms Jourova clearly did not read
the court’s decision, which only ruled that the current government decree on the financing of the STA applies and that this decree even facilitates the financing of the STA. “It was the STA that opposed the decree in court; otherwise, the financing would have already been regulated in July,” he pointed out.
The false news that the government must enable financing of the STA, following the decision of the Supreme Court, has been spreading through media outlets and social networks of the left-wing politicians since the beginning of the month, but this is not true. The director of the Government Communication Office explained on Twitter that the decision of the Supreme Court, which annulled the temporary suspension of the government decree on the provision of public service by the STA, actually means that the court had apparently accepted the Government Communication Office’s arguments. Namely, the STA initially achieved the suspension of the government decree on the financing of the STA and thus prevented the financing itself, but then the Supreme Court annulled this decision. Namely, the court found, among other things, that the agency had failed to demonstrate that it would have received state compensation simply by withholding the regulation. The court also noted that, following the law, the Republic of Slovenia is obliged to provide financing for the STA for the year 2021, in accordance with the business plan.
The fact that the Republic of Slovenia is obliged by law to provide financing for the year 2021 has never been disputed; the problem, however, is that the public service is not being provided In June, the government passed a decree authorising the Government Communication Office to regulate funding and enter into a contract with the STA regarding the funding of its public service. The Government Communication Office prepared the contract in question, but surprisingly, at the end of July, the STA director Bojan Veselinovič demanded the 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 the decision of the first instance court, and then on Monday, the Supreme Court ruled to lift the suspension of the government decree. The government decree is thus in force again. In this situation, any other interpretation is ridiculous and unusual,” Urbanija said, and also pointed out that he was surprised when he was reading the news article about the ruling on the STA website – namely, it was written as if the STA had won the court battle. But in reality, the Supreme Court upheld the appellant and lifted the temporary suspension of the government’s official decree that provides funding for the STA.