MPs call for withdrawal of govt letter to CoE
The two committees propose to the ministry to withdraw the letter and call on all public office holders to refrain from restricting journalist work and editors' independence, and the public's right to being informed, in any way.
In the letter, sent to the CoE at the beginning of April, the government said that most media in Slovenia stemmed from the Communist regime and that all attempts at forming media that were not founded in the totalitarian heritage had failed because of lack of funds from advertising.
The letter was a response to an alert issued by the CoE Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists after Prime Minister Janez Janša tweeted in late March that the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija was misleading the public, adding "apparently there are too many of you and you are paid too well".
The two committees started the debate on the controversial letter last Tuesday but the session was suspended because Foreign Minister Anže Logar had not provided all the answers.
Logar was not present in parliament today and was represented by State Secretary Tone Kajzer, who merely repeated Logar's statements.
He denied that the letter was a dispatch in response to a statement by CoE Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović as claimed by the MPs requesting the session but a reply to the CoE's release saying that Janša was exerting pressure on the media.
However, Kajzer acknowledged that the letter had been written by the Government Communication Office and forwarded to the CoE by the Foreign Ministry.
Opposition MPs demanded that the government withdraw the "unilateral and biased" letter and replace it with a new one that would not hurt Slovenia's reputation. They said the senior coalition Democrats (SDS) had forgotten to mention their own media financed by Hungarians in the letter.
SDS MPs stood behind what was stated in the letter today and maintained the opposition was politicising the matter and going about it unprofessionally.
The coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) distanced themselves from the controversial letter with Gregor Perič of the SMC calling for free, independent and objective media reporting. Branislav Rajić (SMC) said the government had reacted in an irresponsible way and unnecessarily increased tensions in the society.
Jurij Lep (DeSUS) said the document should have been coordinated with other coalition partners.