Today Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša made a brief appearance at the European Parliament’s Democracy, Rule of Law, and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group before leaving abruptly without any discussion with MEPs. As a result, S&D MEPs committed to using every tool at Parliament’s disposal to make sure the Slovenian government is held accountable for its unacceptable attacks on media freedom.
Earlier in the meeting, representatives of the media painted a worrying picture of the media landscape in Slovenia, describing censorship, personal attacks on journalists and a hostile environment. As a result, the S&D Group is committed to sending a clear message to the Commission and Council that any backsliding on media freedom or disregard for the rule of law is unacceptable and that concrete steps must be taken.
Katarina Barley, S&D MEP and member of the Democracy, Rule of Law, and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group, said:
“The Orbán playbook of dismantling democracy is spreading across Europe, the latest example being Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Janša with his attacks on media freedom. Janša's behaviour before our parliamentary committee is a farce and unworthy of a head of government. Instead of facing the agreed exchange with us as parliamentarians, he gets cold feet and disconnects from the ongoing meeting when he was supposed to speak instead of showing a prepared video. Janša's systematic dismantling of media freedom, his insults to journalists combined with his inability to face democratic scrutiny are highly disturbing and do not bode well for the Slovenian Presidency that is about to begin.”
Elena Yoncheva, S&D MEP and member of the Democracy, Rule of Law, and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group, said:
“The open hostility that Prime Minister Janša treats the media with in Slovenia is shocking. The very direct and personal attacks against journalists, particularly female journalists, are a clear attempt to silence and discredit the media. Meanwhile, there are worrying reforms to media laws being carried out that will make state-owned media funding less transparent and more prone to spreading intolerance. While today’s exchange was short, we heard worrying accounts from media representatives and the Human Rights Ombudsman that have confirmed a number of our anxieties about the state of media freedom in Slovenia. We need to take all the information this monitoring group has gathered and we need to think about our next steps as an institution to prevent further backsliding on media freedom. The rule of law situation in Slovenia requires urgent answers and today`s brief appearance from the Prime Minister left us with more questions than answers. Janša’s attempt to run away from scrutiny failed. We remain even more vigilant about the situation in Slovenia.”