The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the European regional group of the International Federation of Journalists, today called on Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša to enter into dialogue with journalists over media problems and to use the upcoming Europen Union presidency to send a message the Slovenia is willing to fight for media freedom.
Journalists are concerned that his administration is avoiding serious questions over policy by claiming that widespread media protests are an effort to make his government look bad and undermine the country’s capacity to hold the EU presidency which it takes over on January 1.
“The upcoming EU presidency offers the Prime Minister a great opportunity to deal with the serious accusations launched by the Slovenian journalists’ community,” said EFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “By engaging in a serious investigation and discussion with media he can work toward resolution of the crisis in Slovenian media.”
On Monday Janša won a vote of confidence in the Slovenian Parliament and, according to reports, in an address that lasted nearly two hours he made numerous criticisms of the press saying that questions from abroad about interference in the media would make it “virtually impossible” for Slovenia to preside over the EU.
He was responding to a petition signed by 571 journalists – about 20 percent of all those working in Slovenia — which denounced intolerable pressure in the newsrooms. The journalists who initiated the protest said it had no political motivation and originated from journalists themselves.
The petition accuses Prime Minister Janša of “restricting media freedom” in the country. The state owns shares in large Slovenian companies which are also co-owners of media, and there have been major changes to boards of administration and management in major Slovenian media. The journalists also say daily editorial decisions are subject to political considerations.
In a letter addressed to the EFJ on Wednesday, the Slovenian government protested that it is opposition parties that are in a position to exercise undue control over media - not the government.
“We welcome this response and the concerns expressed and urge the government to launch a public inquiry into all forms of political interference in Slovenian journalism,” added White.
The EFJ and IFJ believe that an inquiry into the allegations would send an extremely positive signal to the European Union that the Slovenian government is prepared to take a stand for media freedom and quality journalism not just in Slovenia but throughout Europe.
For more information contact the EFJ at +32 2 235 2200
The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists in over 30 countries