Ljubljana – President Borut Pahor will organise a meeting between the directors of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) and the Government Communication Office (UKOM) on Tuesday in a bid to find a solution to “issues that resulted in suspension of financing of the STA public service”.
Announcing the planned meeting, Pahor’s office said the president had recently received a letter from STA director Bojan Veselinovič asking him for support in a renewed call to the government to restore financing of the STA.
The release noted that Pahor discussed the issue with Veselinovič and UKOM director Uroš Urbania in early December when he assessed the STA as a wire service “performs an important mission in the public interest, so its existence cannot be jeopardised”.
Pahor called on the government and the STA management to resolve their differences in accordance with legislation.
A week ago, the STA notified Pahor as well as parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič and Prime Minister Janez Janša of the dire situation faced by the agency, which has not received the statutory state funding for the public service since the beginning of the year, and of the unwillingness by UKOM to engage in talks.
The STA staff also sent a letter to top EU officials to notify them of the situation and ask for their support in a renewed appeal to the government to “immediately and unconditionally provide funding for the STA”.
Saying it had received the letter, the European Commission today reiterated its call to the Slovenian government to ensure independence and appropriate funding of the STA public service.
Zorčič too confirmed having received the letter, calling on everyone in the ruling coalition today to “show their commitment to democratic goals and reinstate what the government has a duty to pay and to allow normal work to all employees”.
Zorčič also thanked the STA staff for “doing their job in the impossible situation”.
In a judgement published today the Supreme Court established the government has a duty to finance the STA public service based on existing laws and regardless of the new government regulation.
In response, Tanja Fajon, the leader of the opposition Social Democrats (SD), sent an open letter to PM Janša urging for the state to immediately settle its back payments to the STA, while she called on UKOM director Urbanija to step down over the “debacle”.
A call for immediate restoring of STA financing also came from Janja Sluga, a member of the non-affiliated group of MPs that also includes Zorčič, both of whom used to be members of the junior coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC).
She said the ruling “confirmed we were right when we insisted the STA act and our amendment to the 7th coronavirus relief act sufficed for STA financing.