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Slovenia: EP concerned about media freedom

Dutch MP Sophie in ‘t Veld (D66 / Rinovoj), in an online interview on media freedom in Slovenia stressed that there are sufficient reasons for the Monitoring Group on Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights of the European Parliament – which she leads – to start monitoring the situation in Slovenia.

She noted that journalists in Slovenia respond to pressure and hate speech with self-censorship. Journalists need to work safely and cheaply, she adds.

However, she stressed that the European Parliament must take decisions on the issue and it will be a matter of fact.

In an online conversation entitled “Is Slovenia the other autocratic state in the EU?” organized by her party D66, she warned that it would be problematic for the Slovenian government to follow the positions of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Poland. She added that this could be complicated because Slovenia is chairing the EU Council this year. As an example of this “attitude monitoring”, she noted that Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša did not recognize US President Joe Biden’s victory in the election.

She recalled that the group she led followed the situation in Slovakia and Malta a few years ago, after the murders of investigative journalists Jan Kuciak and Daphne Caruana Galizia. She stressed that shortly before their killings, there was a “very toxic atmosphere” towards journalists in those countries and such a climate or hate speech could lead to the normalization of violence against journalists.

She also commented on Janca’s unusual response to an article in the Politico newspaper regarding the situation in the Slovenian media, when he contemptuously accused the author of the article, a respected and well-known journalist, of not being independent. “It is unusual for a leading politician in such a position to use such language against journalists,” said Sophie in ‘t Veld, who has been a member of the European Parliament since 2004. She described the article in Politico as disturbing. stressing that journalists in Slovenia are under pressure.

The online conversation was also attended by Slovenian investigative journalist Blaž Zgaga, describing the situation in Slovenia, the MEP said that it was important for Europe to follow closely the developments in Slovenia. As an important tool of the EU, it noted the value of respect for the rule of law in the distribution of funds from the recovery fund after the COVID-19 pandemic.

She also stressed that the situation for journalists in Slovenia can be difficult, but they are not alone and that things are changing. She noted the example of improvements in Slovakia and Malta, as well as the fact that the EU did not have these tools available six years ago, but now that has changed.

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