Veselinovič resigning as the director of the STA
Ljubljana, 30 September - Bojan Veselinovič, the director of the STA, announced today that talks with the director of the Government Communications Office (UKOM) regarding a public service agreement for 2021, held after President Borut Pahor mediated between the two sides, have been unsuccessful. He has notified the STA Supervisory Board that he is terminating his Employment and Management Contract effective today and resigning as the director of the STA.
Please find below his statement for the press.
"I am resigning.
I cannot and will not concede to the conditions being extortionately set by a representative of the government concerning payment of public service, which the STA has been performing without pay for the 273rd day.
The Supreme Court has unequivocally said that the state has an obligation to provide monthly payment for the STA public service. It has the duty to do so even in the absence of a public service agreement, yet we entered into these negotiations all the same. Unfortunately, it has turned out that these talks were nothing but a new form of deliberate foot-dragging punctuated by an unending stream of new demands.
The resolution of the situation that the STA has found itself in, and the fulfilment of the commitments stipulated by law, are clearly incompatible with the political interests of the current government. The government has adopted a decree on the STA and, in its role as the sole shareholder, resolutions that in effect defer the resumption of comprehensive financing of the STA, which is undeniably the government's obligation according to law. The decree set the stage for a public service agreement that would violently upend the STA's successful business model, reducing our commercial activity, revenue and consequently the number of employees. And more than that, it would cover up the outstanding debt to the STA that the agency is owned by the state under the law. The decree can never - and least of all for the period before the end of June, when it took effect - represent the basis for an agreement that would make the public service payment and the calculation thereof conditional on the number of photographs, news items and the length thereof. The solution is clear: payment as stipulated by the law.
I will never participate in the trampling of journalistic autonomy.
I believe that my withdrawal will create circumstances in which the government's attitude to the STA will come into sharp focus. At its core, the government's dispute with the STA has always been about independent media and about the subjugation of the agency. If the STA sticks with its demands, it will undoubtedly succeed in court, at which point the government will finally have to settle its debt if it does not do it before.
I am proud of the work we have done with the STA team. We have done an excellent job. The trust that the STA has built up among its business partners and users of its services in the last ten years is testimony to the quality of our work, which is the result of the professionalism of all our teams - the editors, the journalists, the technological department and the management.
The STA's reputation in the international arena, and in a very special way the support expressed by the people who made donations to help us in the fight for the survival of the STA, testify to the qualify of the agency as well. The current team at the STA is particularly grateful for the support of the doors, which was an expression of our society's broader demand for the respect of the rule of law and media freedom. It has been an honour to be a part of this team."
Ljubljana, 30 September 2021