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2004-05-28 10:23:00
Embassy Ljubljana
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						UNCLAS  LJUBLJANA 000499 




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 33359

Sensitive but Unclassified -- Please protect accordingly.





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 33359

Sensitive but Unclassified -- Please protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary. Slovenia has a very open information
environment in which there is little, if any, overt
censorship. The media are critical and react strongly
against any perceived attempts to influence the tenor of
their reporting. Nevertheless, they often fall short of
journalistic standards of professionalism by blatantly
mixing fact and opinion in their stories. The media also
exhibit a strong left-of-center bias. This "social
democratic" orientation is common to Slovenian academia
and the NGO sector as well, and is reflected within the
broader public, which welcomes American individuals and
culture but remains critical of our foreign and (many of
our) domestic policies.

2. (SBU) Summary cont'd. Generating influence with our
policymaking audience requires tailoring our message to
Slovenes' sense of national interest. The policymaking
establishment is very legalistic and will typically strive
to achieve consensus on major policy issues, even if it
means hindering or delaying policy resolution. To
influence the broader public, we use the full range of PD
tools and programs. We believe strongly in creatively
using all the resources at our disposal to promote mutual
understanding in hopes of gradually chipping away at the
knee-jerk reaction our policies elicit in the media and
within certain parts of Slovene society. End summary.

3. (SBU) Slovenia is a parliamentary democracy and
constitutional republic, which provides for freedom of
speech and of the press. The information environment in
many areas is very open. Internet access rates are high,
and government offices and private institutions have
excellent and sophisticated websites. Thus, Post can do a
great deal of outreach and IRC work via the e-mail and the

Media Environment

4. (SBU) The media environment in Slovenia, however, is
more difficult. It is complex and often opaque, very
critical of the U.S., with major print media displaying a
pronounced and admitted left-of-center bias. Slovenia's
recent history, combining communism and Tito's concept of
"self-management," has resulted in journalists who
distrust governments in general, are quick to label
information propaganda, jealously guard
independence, and see adopting an extremely critical
stance as a natural part of their watchdog role and a way
to make a name for themselves. Too, when the press
suspects it is being "spun," it often reacts strongly and
in the opposite direction.

5. (SBU) The above, combined with a uniform leftist bias
(especially in the major national print media -- there are
no right-leaning dailies), strong anti-American policy
rhetoric, a deep identification with Europe (vs. America),
deliberate efforts to be provocative, and journalists'
almost "allergic reaction" to the Bush administration,
makes for a very hostile media environment for Embassy
public affairs. There is also a surfeit of editorials in
the press and a tendency to mix straight reporting with
editorial comment. In addition, editorial writers seem
to gather the news from secondary sources and compose
their articles almost exclusively from what appear to be
their own ideas and commentary, without than fleshing them
out or substantiating them with outside quotes or ideas
gleaned from interviews and other sources (like, for
example, Tom Friedman of the New York Times).
Investigative journalism as practiced in the U.S. also is
not as developed in Slovenia, partially because editors
are reluctant or unable to allow reporters to spend weeks
developing, researching, and following a single story.
The fact that access to information laws are new here and,
in general, less information from government, individuals
and companies is the public domain also affects reporting.

6. (SBU) The U.S. is also a large and easy target, and
any journalist wanting to criticize U.S. policy only has
to mention the Kyoto Agreement, the ICC and/or Guantanamo
to score a point. Media ownership is difficult to
determine, as are exact political and economic pressures,
which allegedly affect media reporting and result in some
self -censorship.

7. (SBU) Public station TV Slovenia competes for
viewership in the national television market with

commercial station POP TV, and like most public TV
stations in the region, has lost market share to POP and
other cable stations. While occasionally criticized for
pro-government bias from some quarters, TV Slovenia news
is trusted and watched. National radio news (hourly) is
also popular. Because of its public mandate to educate,
TV and Radio Slovenia have more news and public affairs
programs on foreign policy issues, so we frequently turn
to them when we have exclusive interviews and NATO or FPC
tours, as they afford these stories more time and
attention than commercial stations.

8. (SBU) Despite criticism from some quarters, media in
Slovenia enjoy a high degree of public trust. Monthly
polling consistently puts media among the most trusted
institutions. While it is criticized and considered still
to be in transition in some quarters, clearly, it is
accepted by the general public. Opposition figures,
however, complain about media access and the fact that
there are no center right dailies.

9. Major media turn out for Embassy press conferences,
but judge all events with a very critical eye and
attendance is by no means automatic or guaranteed. The
Mission can occasionally place op-eds, but with only three
serious national dailies, all of which are left-of-center
and cautious about taking our material. We have to
prioritize our placement efforts carefully and can take
none for granted. Also, the media here is looking for
news and doesn't always consider messages on U.S. policy,
which are relatively known and stable, to be news.
Naturally, pieces by well-known figures, offered as
Slovenia exclusives, are somewhat easier to place. When
we do place op-eds, papers often feel the need to quickly
counter USG editorials with opposing pieces by local
commentators and writers. Saturday supplements of major
dailies are full of opinion and long "think" pieces by
academics and local experts.

The Slovene public

10. Many of our contacts and Slovene society, in general,
might be described in U.S. terms as social democratic at
heart, and many probably agree with the press's criticism
of U.S. policy. But often (or maybe just in person) they
are not as strident. Despite the press, Slovenes
generally like and accept Americans and still admire and
enjoy many aspects of American culture and society. It is
clear, however, when we go to the universities for
discussions or debates that media criticism is being read
and does have an effect on attitudes and our programming
environment. Non-state actors do play a role in media and
policymaking. University professors regularly write
pieces for print media and are frequent guests on
television talk shows, as are NGO representatives. Many
are from the center-left of the political spectrum,
however, so do not contradict the general left-of-center
media bias.

Identifying our Target Audience

11. (SBU) The primary audience for our MPP goal of
encouraging Slovenia to promote political, economic and
military reform in central and southeastern Europe
consists of government policymakers, parliamentarians,
members of the judiciary, military leaders, the media,
academia, NGOs, and the general public. Some of the
critical NGOs in this area include the International Trust
Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF), the
Regional Center for the Psychosocial Well-Being of War-
Affected Children in Southeastern Europe, and the
Institution for Preventing Corruption. The newly founded
NGO "Forum 21" may also prove to be a critical lobby.

12. (SBU) The main audience in the MPP goal area of
improving Slovenia's ability to detect, interdict,
prosecute and convict persons involved in transnational
criminal and terrorist activities includes, in addition to
the above groups, members of the police, customs, and
border guards.

13. (SBU) The primary audience in the MPP goal area of
encouraging transparency, open markets, further
privatization, and respect for the rule of law consists of
policymakers in the Ministry of Finance and Economics,
business leaders, financial institutions, and trade
associations such as the Council of American States in

Europe (CASE), AmCham Europe, and the Slovenia-U.S. Trade
Promotion Board.

The Policymaking Audience

14. (SBU) Communication with our policymaking audience
takes the form of demarches and official visits by senior
Mission officers as well as interpersonal communication in
less formal settings. Our IRC also makes contact with this
audience and regularly reaches out by providing SDI
profiles, e-newsletters, and other information products
and by responding to inquiries for information on the u.s.
Our ability to influence our contacts is contingent first
on establishing cordial and professional relationships.
Slovene policymakers understand that their national
interest lies in promoting regional stability, counter-
terrorism and anti-crime measures, and our stress on the
congruence of their interests with ours generally leads to
the greatest receptivity to our policies. Policymakers in
particular have a keen and calculated sense of national
interest that usually overrides the sometimes emotional
sway one finds in the media or in academia. Another
important attribute of the Slovenian policymaking
community is the tendency to seek consensus on major
policy issues. The close link between political and
economic elites and the "networked" nature of Slovenian
society result in a desire to burn as few bridges as
possible and achieve maximal consensus. On major issues
like NATO accession, this fervent desire for consensus has
at times caused considerable delays in moving policies
forward. It has also on various occasions severely
complicated the policymaking process and put obstacles in
the way of achieving a necessary resolution.

15. (SBU) Communication with the current GOS leadership
requires attention to a few details. First, PM Rop's
interest in public policy is piqued whenever it is couched
in terms of Slovenia's economic growth and development.
Rop's primary interest is clearly economic policy and he
often frames foreign and security policy issues from an
economist's perspective. Second, the GOS leadership
reportedly pays close attention to opinion polls and has
even commissioned special polls for its own internal

Our broader audience

16. (SBU) In terms of our wider audience--the media,
academia, NGOs, and the judiciary--post uses the full
panoply of PD tools and programs in order to reach out to
these groups. The Fulbright, Humphrey, IV programs, and
NATO tours have enabled us to gain considerable access to
senior administrators and influential voices in academia
as well as to top officials in NGOs and the judiciary.
These programs have generally had positive effects,
although Slovenes have a historically-conditioned
skepticism of government programs that makes them assume
some programs must entail propaganda. Returned Fulbright
and IV grantees often tell us about the high quality of
their U.S. program and are invariably impressed with the
diversity of views they encounter. Some grantees have even
mentioned that their visit forced them to re-evaluate
preconceived notions about the U.S. and led them to
completely change their position on a given issue. Even
without such wholesale change, however, returned grantees
usually come back with a better understanding of the U.S.
and a greater appreciation for how American society is
organized and how public policies are made. Nevertheless,
skepticism of current U.S. policy often remains firmly

17. (SBU) Our Information Resource Center (IRC) provides
information on the u.s. to the general public through our
Mission web site, targeted dissemination of informati9n,
and also upon request. The IRC continuously engages in the
promotion and marketing of our website to a wider audience
and conducts briefings to encourage wider dissemination of
our information products. The IRC director also manages
the Embassy's book donation program and designs
promotional materials and develops marketing strategies
highlighting IRC products, programs, and services.
Speakers from the u.s. also provide our wider audience
with a valuable third-party perspective and help promote
greater appreciation of u.s. society, culture, and
institutions within Slovenia. Again, however, there is
often a tendency to assume that speakers who come to
Slovenia on an Embassy-sponsored program must have had
their message pre-cleared. Because it is so difficult to

find third parties in Slovenia who would represent a pro-
U.S. position, speaker programs nevertheless remain the
tool of choice for voicing third-party perspectives.
Targeted DVCs also provide a valuable link between
policymakers in the U.S. and in Slovenia and have in some
cases led to remarkably long-lasting collaborative
relationships, as in the case of several Slovene judges
who participated in a DVC with Supreme Court Justice
Anthony Kennedy. DVCs for the media must be carefully
selected and judiciously used, however, since the media
needs to feel they are getting useful information and a
story out of the time and effort they put into attending
the event.

18. (SBU) Post engages the media and the general public by
extensively using the Ambassador for interviews and
appearances. We also take advantage of almost all USG
visits for media opportunities to get our message out. We
try to creatively use events to engage our audiences and
to build trust and mutual understanding, whether it be
with a ship visit, US Women's Fed Cup tennis, reception,
or private student exchange. Finally, cultural grants and
cultural programming provide us with access to a very
useful set of contacts in the cultural community and help
sustain a positive image of the U.S. even in the face of
critical media coverage.


19. (SBU) The left-of-center orientation of the Slovene
media and of much of Slovenian society will continue to
produce criticism of our foreign policy. Post will
continue to engage our policymaking audience and the
broader public by remaining highly visible and programming
events that portray the U.S. in a positive light and
counter negative views and misunderstandings of our
policies. We will continue to look for creative ways to
draw attention to our values and to broaden Slovenes'
understanding of our policies and the motivations behind
them. Recent program events like our collaboration with
the U.S. Women's Fed Cup Tennis Team to raise money for
children mine victims received wide press coverage and
portrayed the U.S. very positively. By combining an
auction of tennis equipment with a COM speech about how
the U.S. tax system encourages charitable giving and
volunteerism, we also got our message across about the
importance of allowing market institutions to function in
an unfettered and transparent manner. Our programs must
creatively reach out to our (many) audiences to showcase
our diversity, openness, individualism and hard work. We
will build on recent efforts that include sponsorship of a
film highlighting the diversity of U.S. society in the
Ljubljana film festival, promotion of U.S. counter-TIP
efforts through the screening of a feature film, and a COM
visit to a local school for Deaf and hearing-impaired
students. Our continued presence and high visibility in
such programs will mitigate the negative coverage we
receive on some policy issues and provide better context
for and understanding of our motivations. End comment.