Hungarian authorities seek to pressure Slovenian publication

The Hungarian Embassy in Ljubljana complained to Slovenia's Foreign Ministry after the weekly Mladina published a story it disliked. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have urged the Hungarian government not to interfere in editorial decisions, whether in Hungary or abroad.

Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Credit: AFP/Peter Kohalmi

In recent years Mladina journalists have regularly reported on the increasing influence of Hungary in Slovenian domestic politics and elections. On March 22, they published a story on the role of Slovenian MEPs in preventing Viktor Orban’s political party Fidesz from being expelled from the European People’s Party group in the European Parliament. The illustration portrayed Viktor Orban performing the Nazi salute.

Following the publication, the Hungarian Embassy sent a diplomatic note asking the Slovenian Foreign Ministry for “assistance in preventing similar incidents in the future”. It denounced the “politically irresponsible cover of Mladina” and stated that the latter “violate[d] freedom of the press and expression”.

Slovenian Foreign Ministry officials confirmed the existence of the note but replied that they would not assess nor interfere in any of the media's editorial policy. However, the pressure from the Hungarian authorities continued, after government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs attacked Mladina on his blog.

IFJ affiliate the Slovenian Journalist Association (DNS) condemned an attempt to "encroach upon the editorial autonomy of a media outlet" and an "unheard-of expression of a conception of complete control and disciplining of the media by the authorities...on the contrary, we act autonomously and freely and in accordance with professional and ethical standards and criteria."

The IFJ and the EFJ backed the condemnation and any attempt to interfere with press freedom in Slovenia while welcoming the Slovenian authorities behaviour in refusing to yield to Hungarian pressures.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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