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EP to debate the media situation in Slovenia this afternoon

The European Parliament will debate media freedom in Slovenia in a plenary session Wednesday afternoon, after an originally planned discussion on the government’s efforts to silence free media in Poland and Hungary expanded to include Slovenia. No resolution is expected to pass, according to Slovenian media reports.

A service of the European Parliament’s policy department drafted an in-depth document on the situation in Slovenia in preparation for the Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group session scheduled for Friday. The document, which is for internal use only, also details Prime Minister Janez Janša’s attacks on the media.

“The government’s relations with the media are very tense, with the prime minister directly attacking the media and individual journalists, especially through Twitter,” said a document drafted by the European Parliament’s Commission on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

The long 33-page document describes developments in Slovenia mainly over the past year. Referring to the media, she lists a long list of concerns regarding media freedom and the protection of journalists.

He highlights attacks and threats, defamation campaigns, prosecution of journalists and agencies, political and business pressures including the blocking of public funds which, he points out, are leading to self-censorship.

The document also includes a roundtable of attacks by the prime minister and other government officials that include hate speech against journalists and the media.

“This behavior is unusual for the leaders of European democracies based on the rule of law, fundamental rights and respect for European values,” the document reads.

He adds that prominent government figures representing communities and the country as a whole are expected to try to bring them together by fostering dialogue and consensus at all levels.

Direct and personal attacks by those in power, often inciting others to follow suit, as well as blocking or threatening to block media funding, can be interpreted as an abuse of power intended to intimidate and silence they exerting a cooling effect based on fear, the report notes.

The document also highlights political influence through media moguls, but also the financing of the Slovenian media by Hungarian companies affiliated with the ruling Fidesz party and Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

It is noted that Nova24TV was initially funded by members and supporters of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) but was later recapitalized by Hungarian companies, noting that Nova24TV generated a loss of over € 1 million in the first two years of its operation, suggesting that Hungary Media tycoons enabled the continued existence of the channel.

The document also cites attacks by government officials on representatives of the judiciary and notes the replacements in senior positions in the country’s police, armed forces, statistics office and intelligence agency. “It was the first time such dismissals occurred without mentioning a cause,” it is noted.

The document further highlights the pressure NGOs face, replacements in museum leaderships and proceedings against members of the government, as well as anti-government protests and fines faced by protesters.

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