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Prime Minister Janez Janša: Transition left-wing parties feared that their media monopoly in Slovenia would be threatened

  • Former Prime Minister Janez Janša (2020 - 2022)

Prime Minister Janez Janša today attended the 25th regular session of the Commission of Inquiry into the alleged money laundering in NKBM d.d., the alleged illegal financing of the SDS political party and the alleged illegal financing of the SDS election campaign for the early parliamentary elections.

PM Janša attended the 25th regular session of the parliamentary Commission of Inquiry.

PM Janša attended the 25th regular session of the parliamentary Commission of Inquiry. | Author Kabinet predsednika vlade

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By way of introduction, the Prime Minister said that the above-mentioned Commission of Inquiry had been set up because "the transition left-wing parties feared that their media monopoly in Slovenia would be threatened.”

Subsequently, Prime Minister Janša answered a number of different questions about his familiarity with individual companies, their operations and transactions, as well as the ownership interests in these companies, the operations of the Slovenian Democratic Party, and was also asked about his acquaintance with particular persons.

The Prime Minister did not comment on the business transactions of private companies. "If you have a question about the transactions of private companies, ask the owners of these companies. It seems ridiculous that you are asking me about the operations of private companies, even those amounting to EUR 5,000 or 6,000," said the Prime Minister. He added that he was not invited to the session of the Commission of Inquiry as a representative of the companies, but as President of the Slovenian Democratic Party, and pointed out that he would have expected questions that refer to the subject of the parliamentary inquiry. He added that the company owners' disposal of their assets was entirely their own decision and their own business.

The Prime Minister has already heard about the Hungarian company Ripost, as it had been reported in the media, but this was the first time he had ever heard about Media Works Hungary. At the session of the Commission of Inquiry, the Prime Minister also heard for the first time about Kesma (according to deputy Jani Möderndorfer, it is an organisation of 476 Hungarian media outlets, whose common feature is their editorial policy, which is described as pro-government).

Prime Minister Janša was also asked about certain Hungarian individuals, and he pointed out that it was quite possible that he had met some of the listed individuals, but he did not say that he knew anyone.

In response to the questions about the interests of Hungarian companies in Slovenian media, the Prime Minister said that he believed the above-mentioned Hungarian individuals would find it "difficult to influence 99% of the Slovenian media, which are firmly in the hands of the transitional left-wing parties." Also, such interests are probably ten times lower than the interests received by the media of the transition left-wing parties from the state budget during the period of left-wing governments. "If we were to replace the names in the conclusions and connections highlighted by Mr Möderndorfer, there would emerge the Slovenian media octopus, which is certainly ten times worse than what you infer in the case of Hungary, and is directly related to the parties you represent here", said the Prime Minister regarding the Hungarian interest in the Slovenian media. He also noted that "at the time of the left-wing governments in Slovenia, interests amounting to billions of euros were sold or transferred to a fund, I think it is called York, and this fund then rescued Mladina and some other media in Slovenia." In his answers to the questions, Prime Minister Janša also wondered what impact the Hungarian government could have on the Slovenian media, as its share of capital in Slovenian media is probably less than one percent of all foreign investments. "What influence can the government of a country from which companies have investments amounting to a few tenths of a percent of all foreign investment in the media have?" asked the Prime Minister. He compared this percentage of the influence with the influence of the transitional left in the Slovenian media. "It is visible what impact the transitional left policy has on the Slovenian media, given the fact that when the failed media empire of tycoon Odlazek was transferred to the bad bank, a contract with this tycoon was signed on the basis of which he has, through a minority stake – since a large part of the outstanding debts were transferred to the bad bank – 75% of the voting rights, but you do not investigate this. Slovenian state capital or Slovenian public finances were directly damaged, but nevertheless the tycoon was allowed to hold 75% of the voting rights for taxpayers’ money. This is not just a matter of damaging public finances, it is striking political corruption crying to heaven, and after this was discovered, it has dragged through the courts for two years now, whereas the situation is still the same," stressed the Prime Minister.

In connection with the ownership structures of individual companies, the Prime Minister said that "the ownership structure of the Mladina weekly has not been known for decades, although the weekly was financed from overpaid vascular stents and was financially rescued by a fund to which you sold Slovenian tourist pearls, but no one was upset, even though it is about Slovenian capital and Slovenian ownership and the money of Slovenian taxpayers." He also added that there is probably no one who would know by heart and could list all the owners of the individual companies about which he was asked. "As regards the ownership interest of individual companies, it is possible to look into the business registers to find out who the owners are," he added. "The Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) has had a minority stake in Nova obzorja Publishing House for decades, while it has no shares in the Nova24TV and Nova hiša media companies. However, if a member of the Slovenian Democratic Party bought shares when they were available, it is a matter of each individual," the Prime Minister answered questions about the ownership interests of the Slovenian Democratic Party in individual media.

The Prime Minister also explained by whom and how decisions are taken on the operation of the Slovenian Democratic Party and spoke about the fact that the Slovenian Democratic Party is regularly inspected by the Court of Auditors and that the Slovenian Democratic Party has a supervisory body that supervises the operations. "All operations are carried out in accordance with the statutes. If the Court of Auditors had found what they found with the Social Democrats (SD), i.e. that the election campaign bills had not been paid, we would be subject to the most severe sanctions. The Court of Auditors has never turned a blind eye to us and inspects us very thoroughly," added the Prime Minister.

In connection with individual questions, the Prime Minister also highlighted the advertising campaigns of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food at the time the Ministry was led by Minister Dejan Židan. "Minister Židan spent EUR 3 million on advertisements in the Slovenian media, through various agencies that later ran campaigns for various parties,” said the Prime Minister. He also added that Slovenian state-owned companies had transferred tens of millions of euros to various media for advertising campaigns that had no effect, "but these media then strongly supported the Social Democrats (SD), the List of Marjan Šarec (LMŠ), the Party of Alenka Bratušek (SAB) and other political parties."

The Prime Minister proposed that the Commission of Inquiry start dealing with the issue of commissions in connection with the criminal act of the money laundering of nearly USD 2 billion in the then largest state bank, Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB Bank).