Šarec regrets Brussels's lukewarm response to intel scandal
Arriving in Brussels on Wednesday for an EU summit dedicated to Brexit, Šarec said he had expected the Commission call for respect for the rule of law and declare pressure on the media unacceptable, in particular when they came from a neighbour country.
Šarec also commented on criticism at home that he was trying to create a state of emergency ahead of the EU elections. "There's no state of emergency. We have responded to the pressure, we've convened the National Security Council because there was a series of initiatives for that, and I find that's right."
"We cannot be humble all the time, turning the other cheek, we must speak out when things are wrong. We've done that too. This doesn't mean we're creating a state of emergency, there's no state of emergency," Šarec said.
The National Security Council met yesterday in the wake of a report by the commercial broadcaster POP TV that an intermediary working on behalf of the Croatian government had sought to prevent its news portal from running a story last week proving that the Croatian intelligence agency was responsible for intercepting the phone calls between Slovenia's judge and agent in the border arbitration in July 2015, which Croatia used as an excuse to withdraw from the arbitration process.
He said that it was a perfectly justified reaction to summon the Slovenian ambassador to Croatia to come to Ljubljana to explain the situation, and to summon the Croatian ambassador for talks, which was to show Slovenia as a sovereign country with its own position.
"If in the past our leaders were too servile, I cannot help it. I act the way I think is right," he said.
Asked whether he planned to discuss the matter with his Croatian counterpart Andrej Plenković and EU leaders, Šarec said that he always exchanged a few words with Plenković at the summit and that they would also have a word at the summit of China and 16 central and east European countries in Croatia's Split on Thursday.
"As far as I know Croatian journalists have joined in the protest against such interference in the media," Šarec said, referring to the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists backing the Slovenian Journalists' Association in condemning the pressure on POP TV.
Provided an opportunity, Šarec plans to have a word about the issue with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, but he does not believe he will get any other answer from the one already issued by the Commission. "The time has obviously come for elections and for change," he said.
Šarec will tell Plenković that the rule of law must be observed and that pressure on the media is unacceptable, he said. "We expect Croatia to refrain from such acts, to implement the arbitration award as soon as possible, and to stop with the practice that is not in Slovenia's or Croatia's interests."
The European Commission did not wish to comment on the revelations yesterday, saying this was a bilateral affair. The Commission reacted in a similar way the day before when asked to comment on Hungary's protest over the cover of the Mladina magazine portraying the Hungarian PM.