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Slovenia Delivers Note to Finland Over TV Programme Accusations

Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Jansa has delivered a note to the Finnish Ambassador in Ljubljana, Birgitta Stenius-Mladenov over the contents of the YLE television programme MOT. According to the programme aired on Monday, the Finnish defence material manufacturer Patria paid bribes to the Slovenian Prime Minister in exchange for orders. Slovenia's Prime Minister considers the claims as unfounded and said the programme could effect the friendly relations between the two countries. However, the note does not demand any legal investigation. Janez Jansa demanded an apology from the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE on Tuesday. Accusations have been made in Slovenia that the purpose of the programme was an attempt to help the country's opposition in upcoming parliamentary elections. YLE Threatened with Legal Action A spokesperson for the Slovenian Prime Minister said his government would take both the Finnish Broadcasting Company and the journalist responsible to court over the charges. No further details were given and neither has YLE been contacted on the matter. YLE responded to an apology demand from the Slovenian prime minister's office on Wednesday. The company said the programme was based on several reliable sources. Channel Director Riitta Pihlajamäki said the matter was closed as far as YLE was concerned. In Slovenia, where preparations are under way for parliamentary elections, the claims made by the YLE programme have caused a political storm. According to MOT, Patria paid a total of EUR 21 million in bribes indirectly to Slovenian Defence Ministry officials and to the Prime Minister, in return for hundreds of millions in orders for the Slovenian military. The State of Finland owns 73% of Patria. Finland's National Bureau of Investigation is carrying out an investigation into Patria's dealings with Slovenia. Slovenia's Prime Minister has been in touch with both his Finnish counterpart Matti Vanhanen and Finance Minister Jyrki Kaitainen. Vanhanen told Janez, the Finnish government could not intervene in a YLE television programme. However, writing in the Centre Party web paper, Vanhanen said he understand the gravity of the situation given that elections are being held in Slovenia in two week's time. YLE

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