You are liars, damn liars. This is the one thing, the only thing that can be written while reading your report (especially the part on Slovenia – HERE) on democracy during the COVID-19 pandemic. And if you have lied and manipulated so much of the data about Slovenia, then we can justifiably doubt what you have written about other countries too: from Germany and Italy to Hungary and Bulgaria.
We do not intend to apologize for our words, you took off your gloves with the lies, and now, we have also put them aside, so we, who are proverbially tactful and polite, will not be choosing our words now. We will consider the fact that the unilateral information from Slovenia obviously misled you as a mitigating circumstance; however, you should do at least a short check of the information before you publish lies.
- Even before the new centre-right government was sworn in after the resignation of Marjan Šarec, who led the centre-left government, the left-wing activists had already organized protests, in which we could hear slogans, such as: Kill, kill Janša! (Janez Janša, the President of the Slovenian Democratic Party – SDS, is the new Prime Minister). You can watch the video HERE. No one batted an eye.
- Even before the new centre-right government started working, the left-wing and progressive media (in Slovenia, they represent 95% of the media landscape) began claiming that the Janez Janša government would gradually introduce a dictatorship while adopting the measures to fight the pandemic. None of this happened. Slovenia was the first country in the EU to lift restrictive measures. And these measures were not disproportionate at all, as you claim. Many EU countries have had stricter restrictive measures.
- Despite the measures, the centre-right government allowed for the so-called cycling protests to be held every week. It did not restrict anyone from protesting peacefully. However, the left-wing protesters have restricted and blocked the normal life of the citizens of Ljubljana, as they walked on the streets and roads in the capital, without the permission of the local authorities, which is not in accordance with Slovenian law.
- Anyone reading your report would think that since the beginning of Janez Janša’s (SDS) government’s term, the journalists in Slovenia who have been critical of the government have been persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, censored, and almost put in front of a firing squad. None of this is true. In Slovenia, everyone is guaranteed freedom of speech and freedom in general. No one was persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, censored. However, if someone criticizes the reporting of certain media and journalists (including those you refer to), that is something completely normal, an expression of plurality, openness, and a free society. Neither the media nor journalists are exempt from criticism. However, it is true that most Slovenian media outlets were used to living in a bubble; they wanted to be untouchable. And they weren’t used to their lies being highlighted by anyone. And the conclusion? You are lying, damn it, lying.
Jože Biščak, editor-in-chief of the magazine Demokracija and president of the Slovenian Association of Patriotic Journalists, and Vinko Vasle, long-time journalist and editor, and former director of Radio Slovenia