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You will be appalled when you hear how much money went to the NGOs that occupy the work premises at Metelkova rent-free!

Metelkova City. (Foto: sta)

After the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia called on the non-governmental organizations that are using the premises at Metelkova 6 in Ljubljana, near the Ministry, to vacate the premises by the end of January next year, as the building is too dangerous for tenants due to its old age and the wear and tear, the non-governmental organizations decided to fight back. The proposal for the amicable termination of the lease agreement, which was sent to the tenants, poses a great problem for them because it means that they will no longer be able to use the premises without paying rent, which is what they have been accustomed to so far. However, publicly available data reveals that the “freeloaders” received funds from the state, so they could have easily paid rent and the expenses for the premises.

The non-governmental organizations, which are financed from the state budget, are protesting in response to the request of the Ministry of Culture, which, as the manager of the building, said that if they do not comply with the proposal to terminate the lease and the eviction call, the eviction will be achieved in legal proceedings, and the NGOs will have to pay the legal expenses. Namely, the Ministry explains that they need the space for themselves, and the fact is that the building is statically inadequate and is already becoming dangerous to live in, according to modern building norms and regulations. “The roof has been leaking for some time now; the roofing is falling off and has already damaged one car at the parking lot. Due to the poor state of the façade and the lack of isolation, heating costs are significantly higher,” the Ministry explained, stressing that only urgent maintenance work has been carried out so far, so rehab was planned for the building some time ago, due to insufficient earthquake resistance.

The NGOs announced: We will not leave Metelkova
“We are strongly protesting the actions of the Ministry of Culture and see them as an attack on the civil society and the independent culture, in a desire to prevent the functioning of the critical public. The current government and especially the largest government party, SDS, have never tried to hide this desire,” members of the NGOs wrote in their response. So far, they have been exempted from paying rent, and some haven’t even contributed anything for the payment of expenses. “We are informing the Ministry of Culture and the Government of the Republic of Slovenia that we will not leave Metelkova 6 and that we will fight with all our might against the attacks on the civil society, independent culture, and democracy,” they concluded, according to the STA.

According to the ministry, as many as 18 organizations are using the unrenovated facilities which are actually owned by the state, namely: the Legal-Information Centre for Non-Governmental Organizations – PIC, the SCCA-Ljubljana Institute, the Peace Institute, the NSK  Information Centre, the Retro-Avant-Garde Association, Forum Ljubljana, Institute for Artistic and Cultural Production, Dance Theatre Ljubljana, the ŠKUC Association, Maska Ljubljana, En-knap Institute, the Slovenian Organic Farmers’ Association, Sloga, Exodos Institute Ljubljana, Otok, Institute for the Development of Film Culture Ljubljana, Vitkar Institute, City of Women – Association for the Promotion of Women in Culture, and Gallus J. Carniolus Institute. The ministry also pointed out that it is possible that there are even more non-governmental organizations that use the premises.

The Peace Institute is well-funded by the money from the state budget
The Peace Institute is undoubtedly among the most dissatisfied organizations. It is considered a “strategic centre” for consolidating Marxism, communism, anti-family ideologies, the spread of the so-called reproductive rights, and the radical interests of the LGBTQ. Ever since it was established on the 24th of April 1991, it has been well-funded by the taxpayers’ money. In the past, we have already reported on the fact that, according to the data from Supervisor, in the years from 2013 to 2017 alone, they received an incredible amount of 2,335,096.89 euros from the Slovenian state budget sources alone. And the European budgetary resources are not included in this number, even though the Slovenian taxpayers also contribute to those.

The web application Erar, which shows the use of public money, shows that in the period from 2003 to 2020, the Peace Institute received the most money from the Slovenian Research Agency, in the amount of 2,622,867.39 euros. Others that have contributed a lot include: the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy (464,364.93 euros), the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (400,161.28 euros), the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities (378,289.33 euros), and the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport (374.602,14 euros).

The Maska Institute Ljubljana
The non-governmental organization Maska Institute Ljubljana, the artistic director of which is an artist who changed his name to Janez Janša, is also latched on to the state budget. In the period from 2003 to 2020, as much as 4,483,507.16 euros of public money were transferred to their accounts for the work of “politically correctly directed” artists, who made fun of Janša in their work. They received the most money from the Ministry of Culture, namely, as much as 2,296,719.03 euros, followed by the City of Ljubljana, which allocated a total of 1,031,743.74 euros for the Institute.

The Legal-Information Centre for Non-Governmental Organizations
The Legal-Information Centre for NGOs, whose mission, according to their description, is to “help individuals and vulnerable groups in protecting their fundamental rights, and strengthen the influence of the NGOs in the field of environmental protection and spatial planning through legal aid, advocacy, and legal analysis,” received the most public money in the period from 2003 to 2020 from the Ministry of the Interior, namely 1,167,755.02 euros, according to the Erar application. The centre, which advocated for Slovenia to directly accept thousands of asylum seekers from the refugee camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina at the beginning of the year, has regular inflows.

Considering that there are still many associations and institutes that have enjoyed the benefit of not having to pay rent, we are mentioning a few of them below:

Between 2003 and 2020, the En-Knap Institute for the organization and implementation of cultural events in Ljubljana received a total of EUR 7,512,665.74. The City of Ljubljana, which contributed 3,654,446.75 euros, paid the most, and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia is a close second, as it contributed 2,358,994.39 euros.

From 2003 to 2020, the production house Forum Ljubljana, an institute for artistic and cultural production, received 6,833,184.21 euros of public funds. In the aforementioned period, the Slovenian Film Centre gave them the most money, the amount of 3,042,671.70 euros, while the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia (1,419,641.10 euros) and the City of Ljubljana (1,214,924.62 euros) also paid them a lot of money.

The ŠKUC Association, which promotes the non-profit cultural and artistic activities, received the highest amount of public in the period from 2003 to 2020, from the City of Ljubljana – 2,762,570.46 euros, and from the Ministry of Culture – 2,754,555.90 euros.

From 2003 to 2020, the Dance Theatre Ljubljana received state funds in the total amount of 3,820,830.95 euros, the Erar application reveals. Among those who paid the highest amounts are the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, which allocated 1,763,924.15 euros for the Theatre, and the City of Ljubljana, which allocated 1,730,794.31 euros.

In the period from 2003 to 2020, the Exodos Institute Ljubljana received 2,853,166.22 euros of public funds. The City of Ljubljana contributed the most money to their account, namely, 1,078,448.79 euros, followed by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, which contributed 819,677.72 euros.

In the time period from 2003 to 2020, the Ljubljana Centre for Contemporary Arts (SCCA-Ljubljana), which was established in 2000 as the successor of the Soros Centre for Contemporary Arts Ljubljana, which operated in Slovenia from 1993 to 1999, received a total amount of 1,925,567.49 euros of public money. The City of Ljubljana and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia paid them the highest amounts.

In the period from 2003 to 2020, a total of 1,875,547.26 euros was transferred to the account of the City of Women – Association for the Promotion of Women in Culture. Among the most generous payers were the City of Ljubljana (921,575.32 euros) and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia (804,502.69 euros).

According to Erar, the NSK Information Centre received a total of 1,088,460.72 euros in public funds in the period from 2003 to 2020. The Modern Gallery and the Ministry of Culture gave them the most money.

Otok, an institute for the development of film culture in Ljubljana, which is engaged in cinematographic activities, received a total of 1,553,037.70 euros in the period from 2003 to 2020. Among those who paid them the most are the Municipality of Izola (639,843.49 euros) and the Slovenian Film Centre (325,621.46 euros).

According to Erar, the platform of non-governmental organizations for development, global learning, and humanitarian aid, SLOGA, received a total amount of 1,342,077.45 euros in the period from 2006 to 2020. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia paid the highest amount, as it contributed 794,196.62 euros.

In the period from 2003 to 2020, 37,256.07 euros were transferred to the account of the Gallus J. Carniolus Institute. Tourism Kranjska Gora (13,979.30 euros) and the City of Ljubljana (9,512.07 euros) gave them the highest amounts.

The Slovenian Organic Farmers’ Association, which also has its headquarters at Metelkova 6 in Ljubljana, received a total of 1,071,368.83 euros, Erar reveals.

In the period from 2003 to 2020, the Vitkar Institute received a total of 958,880.15 euros of public money, with the Ministry of Culture (375,847.32 euros) and the City of Ljubljana (321,595.75 euros) contributing the most.

The Centre for Slovenian Literature is an institute for literary and publishing activity, which, according to Erar, received a total amount of 938,822.33 euros in the period from 2003 to 2020. The Public Book Agency of the Republic of Slovenia (555,898.04 euros) and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia (368,534.80 euros) paid them the highest amounts.

In the period from 2010 to 2020, the Retro-Avant-Garde Association received a total of 446,258.48 euros of public funds, of which the Ljubljana Festival contributed the most.

As we can see from the publicly available data of the Erar application, which shows the spending of public money, it is obvious that all of the non-governmental organizations that have their premises on Metelkova received public funds at some point or the other but are now protesting the ministry’s call for eviction of premises, as this call means the end of being rent-free. Nevertheless, there are those who have sided with the non-governmental organizations, one of them being Tanja Fajon, the president of the SD party, who emphasized the following: “Minister Simoniti denied hospitality to the NGOs. They will throw the Peace Institute, ŠKUC, City of Women, and others out. If you do not agree with the current government and you are critical of it, it punishes you. Dear Minister, if you have any integrity, withdraw your intentions immediately. #metelkovamesto.” Unlike her, the Minister of the Interior, Aleš Hojs, critically pointed out: “According to @24ur_com, all these associations have not paid any rent for the business premises in the last decade or more. During the same period, they received millions of euros in grants from the state. The know-how that can only be defended by those like the SD party, which is used to living in houses that were stolen.”

Nina Žoher