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Prime Minister Janez Janša: I have been striving to discuss the rule of law and the state of democracy in Slovenia since 1987

Prime Minister Janez Janša participated in a video conference today on media freedom and the rule of law in Slovenia. The European Parliament’s Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group (DRFMG), as part of the EP’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), continued the discussion on the freedom of the media and the rule of law in Slovenia which began on 5 March 2021.

Prime Minister Janez Janša began by saying that he has been personally striving for the European Parliament to open a discussion on the rule of law and media freedom and the state of democracy in Slovenia since 1987. “At the beginning this was not possible, as Slovenia was still part of Yugoslavia. However, it was at that time that we needed such help the most and, in a way, we need this discussion now and for the entire duration of the transition, which is still not over,” said the Prime Minister and continued: “It is no secret that Slovenia has problems with the rule of law and media freedom, and there are different views on this subject. However, facts are the objective criteria here,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša.

He also welcomed the fact that this topic was being addressed and expressed hope that today’s discussion would not be the last. “With regard to the government representatives, we are ready to work together with them at any time,” emphasised the Prime Minister and added that he hoped the epidemic would come to an end as soon as possible so that the talks could be held in person, thereby allowing enough time for presentations and explanations without censorship. “We regrettably received a number of notices in the hours leading up to the event that you had to personally approve what would be shown in the video, which I don’t feel is a great step forward in the respect of media freedom,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša. 

"As for the position of the Slovenian government, we do not want to hide anything, unlike previous governments, we are ready to talk about anything that anyone thinks is a problem affecting the rule of law and the freedom of the media in Slovenia, we just want enough time to present also the other side of the issue and, of course, we invite everyone who thinks that anything is wrong to come to Slovenia and get to know the situation directly," said the Prime Minister, adding that anyone coming from abroad would only need to stay here for a week and engage a good translator to monitor the media and political events in our country, and he or she would get a clear picture of what is actually happening in Slovenia.

"This picture will be different from what the Slovenian proponents have tried to present," said Prime Minister Janez Janša, adding that we are aware that today's debate, although taking place within the European Parliament, was aimed at the domestic political situation in Slovenia. 

"I doubt that anyone in Latvia, Luxembourg or Portugal is interested in this, the same as it is likely that no one from Slovenia monitors the media situation in Latvia or Portugal in particular," said the Prime Minister. "We are not hiding anything, but we want things to be assessed objectively and for each institution to respect its responsibilities," he added.

Prime Minister Janez Janša then suggested watching a video prepared in English talking about attacks on journalists, proceedings conducted against journalists and the attempted murder of a journalist in Slovenia at a time when Slovenia was already independent, which is something we cannot be proud of. "Unfortunately, those who have their mouths full of media freedom do not see such problems as were experienced by Slovenian journalists, who were either beaten almost to death or fired when they were dying," said Prime Minister Janez Janša.

As MEP Sophie in 't Veld (Renew/D66) refused to have the video broadcast despite prior agreement and coordination, the Prime Minister called on her to prove in practice that she was committed to media freedom and to broadcast the video. He also rejected allegations that there were technical problems, as the Parliament's expert services confirmed that there were no such problems with the video. 

The video, which the MEP chairing the European Parliament's Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group, which operates within the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), did not want to broadcast, can be viewed on this website.