Coalition partners urge Janša to invite press freedom fact-finding mission

Ljubljana – The heads of the junior coalition partners New Slovenia (NSi) and Modern Centre Party (SMC) have proposed to Prime Minister Janez Janša that the government invite an EU mission that would investigate the state of freedom of the press in Slovenia.

NSi leader and Defence Minister Matej Tonin said on Twitter on Monday that European Commissioner for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova would learn the most about freedom of the press in Slovenia if she deployed a “fact-finding mission” to the country.

“Only facts count, everything else is politicking,” added Tonin, who has been joined in the call by SMC leader and Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek.

“If Brussels only has (dis)information from only one side, they cannot have the complete picture of the situation, which is why a visit by Commissioner Jourova would be welcome,” Počivalšek said.

Janša has retweeted both tweets.

The call comes after the Brussels-based web portal Politico published an analysis of the media situation in Slovenia in which it says that Janša’s attacks on the media create a climate of fear.

It added that Janša is waging a big campaign against journalists he does not like, and that journalists say the pressure has led to self-censorship and that some editors have resorted to calling police over threats.

In his response on Twitter, Janša said the author Lili Bayer had been “instructed not to tell the truth”. The European Commission condemned the accusations, stressing that hatred, threats and personal attacks on journalists were unacceptable.

Janša responded by saying that “we will happily welcome to Slovenia any delegation of any institution that would try to prove that the mainstream media are under control of the Slovenian government.

“Perhaps a visit for an hour or two with a fair interpreter would suffice, for instance between 6pm and 11.30pm, and everything would be clear,” he added, presumably in reference to evening news shows.