Franc Bogovič’s comment regarding the controversy arising from the article by Politico, a Brussels-based website, and the statements of Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld (a member of Renew, a political group of the European Parliament, of which the Slovenian LMŠ is a member) regarding media freedom and hate speech.
Ljubljana, Koprivnica – February 18th, 2021 – Slovenian People’s Party MEP Franc Bogovič (SLS/EPP) responded to journalists’ questions regarding the article by Politico, a Brussels-based website, and yesterday’s announcement by Dutch MEP Sophie in’ t Veld (Renew) in an online debate on media freedom in Slovenia. She stated, that, in her opinion, there are sufficient grounds for the Monitoring Group on Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights of the European Parliament to start monitoring the situation in Slovenia. Bogovič’s full response and commentary are given below.
I support a respectful dialogue in society and the media as well as any balanced discussion on democracy and media freedom both in Slovenia and in Europe, as this is an especially important topic. Concerning the debate on media freedom, I would like us to take off the gloves once and for all, in the European Parliament and Slovenia, and talk about the fundamental problems of our democracy and the media, where we often have the old state’s mentality in many subsystems of our society, even though we have been living in a new state for 30 years. Often the root of all problems is the opaque ownership and unclear financing surrounding the Slovenian media, perhaps even with money from business oligarchs, which was also pointed out by the European Commission in its recent report on the rule of law. For transparent media operations and the strengthening of users’ trust in the media and their role in society, the ownership of all media should be transparent, instead of the latter being disguised no matter what. Despite the successful concealment of their ownership, these media companies have nevertheless very openly interfered in the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia elections in the last few elections. Insofar as they have tried to conceal their role in the past at least a little, this has not been the case in the last year, where they have been, on the contrary, incredibly open in their actions, both in overthrowing the government of Mr. Janez Janša, as in opposing the measures of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia in its fight against the pandemic.
I believe that the intention of the statements and initiatives of MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld (Renew) about monitoring respect for democracy, the rule of law, freedom of the media, etc., in Slovenia, which she pointed out within the parliamentary group for monitoring democracy, as well as in the Politico article, based on a conversation with Slovenian journalists (this article would be more analytically more credible if it would show both sides of the coin in a balanced way, including the open hate speech on the streets and social networks against the Prime Minister and other high-ranking government officials, including slogans “Death to Janšaism!”, which most of the Slovenian media did not seriously accuse), for the continuation of the political action against the current Government of the Republic of Slovenia on the European stage, behind which the Slovenian SD (S&D) and LMŠ (Renew) or their MEPs also stand, part openly and part covertly. This political action has been carried out on the EU stage through the topic of media freedom and through the media themselves, ever since the resignation of former Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, as their goal is to denigrate the current government of Prime Minister Janez Janša, which these two parties in Slovenia are aggressively trying to overthrow.
Let me remind you, that a similar action was carried out by Tanja Fajon at last November’s plenary session of the European Parliament, when she very arbitrarily tried to internationalize her domestic political topic, also as president of the SD, on the European stage with an ideological debate on media freedom in Slovenia and Northern Macedonia.
If MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld, in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), really wants a comprehensive debate on democracy and the media in Slovenia, I suggest that she extend it to the core of the problem of Slovenian media ownership, through the Slovenian transition to the present day, and their influence on politics, and not only on the arbitrary political focus, when precisely because of the described media situation in Slovenia, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia sometimes sharply criticizes the media.
Such a conversation is necessary for democracy in our beautiful country and I would gladly support such a discussion, but unfortunately, it is not an arbitrary one, because it is only about the obvious placement of Slovenian domestic political struggle, especially through former Slovene journalists Tanja Fajon (SD/S&D) and Irena Joveva (LMŠ/Renew), today’s MEPs, and their Slovenian party MEP colleagues, on the EU stage.
I am very sorry that my fellow MEPs from SD – S&D and LMŠ – Renew are spitting into their own bowl or Slovenia as a whole and denigrating it in the EU through the Slovenian media and political struggle. All just for its narrow political interest, which is limited to the Slovenian political left defeating Janez Janša.
We farmers have the best metaphor for this, that they are “ready to kill an ox for a kilo of meat.” In politics, however, they are allowed to denigrate their own country, even before Slovenia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU. This is probably how threats are realized, which were pronounced in KUL upon the failure of a vote of no confidence in the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia.