Janša, Simoniti accept invitation to EP media hearing, insist on in-person format

Photo: STA

Ljubljana – PM Janez Janša and Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti gladly accept an invitation to an exchange of views on Slovenian media with the European Parliament’s Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group, however the discussion should be held in face-to-face format in the European Parliament, the government said on Tuesday.

The meeting should be public and there should be enough time to comprehensively present all the discussed topics, reads a post published on the government’s website.

The group’s head, Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld (Renew), is invited to join a fact-finding mission that has been urged by the prime minister to visit Slovenia, the post adds.

Addressing a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Janša called on the Commission last week to appoint the mission to get acquainted with the state of democracy, the rule of law, independence of the judiciary and media plurality in Slovenia.

The Commission has received the letter and intends to reply to it. But it said the annual report on the rule of law was the proper framework to assess the situation of the freedom of the media, “a pillar of our democracies”.

Sophie in ‘t Veld meanwhile confirmed for the STA last week that invitations had been sent to representatives of the Slovenian government, including Janša, to attend a virtual discussion on Slovenian media held by her group on 5 March.

The MEP said that the group was monitoring several countries as well as horizontal topics, underscoring that monitoring “is not a one-off event, but a process”.

Depending on the findings and the situation, there may be follow-up actions in the form of a written report to the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), of which her group is part, or a plenary resolution.

“In addition to the hearing, we will use various sources of information to follow closely the situation, and we also make use of the instrument of written follow-up questions and possibly further hearings,” explained in ‘t Veld, adding that fact-finding missions were part of their toolkit, although travel was currently not possible.