The Slovenia Times

EU Parliament not adversary of Slovenia, says MEP in 't Veld


Brussels - MEP Sophie in 't Veld (Renew/D66), chair of the European Parliament's democracy monitoring group, has rejected allegations of censorship by Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša. An impression that the Parliament is an opponent of Slovenia's is regrettable and far from the truth, she told the STA on Monday.

The MEP said that the group was willing to cooperate and would do all it could to help Slovenia avert a scenario that has been seen in Hungary and Poland.

She said that the group conducted its work in a neutral, calm and professional manner. The group's members regret that the recent developments had been made into a spectacle. "It almost seems as if the European Parliament was an opponent of Janša or Slovenia, which is very far from the truth," in 't Veld told the STA over the phone.

If Janša thinks that a wrong impression has been created, he could always contact the group, she added.

Janša fell out with in 't Veld last Friday at the group's public debate at the Parliament on the situation in Slovenia.

The prime minister had a video about attacks on media and journalists which he insisted should be screened as part of the debate before questions time, whereas in 't Veld refused to allow that. She did say, however, the video could be shown at the end of the debate.

Janša responded by accusing her of censorship. Over the weekend he then wrote on Twitter that Slovenia owed nothing to Brussels. Some Slovenians have been paying the price of freedom and democracy for 35 years and "overpaid bureaucrats who were born into prosperity will not preach to us about freedom and democracy", he said.

He went on to say that Slovenians will never agree " to be censored by self-proclaimed ombudsmen. We did not allow [Slobodan] Milosevic to do that, nor will we allow @SophieintVeld or @CiolosDacian to do so."

Today, in 't Veld dismissed the censorship allegations again, noting that the Parliament was not obliged to show any content. She explained that Janša's video was part of a vast volume of material that had been sent to the group, including statements by individuals, journalists, NGOs and other stakeholders.

The group is also gathering information by itself and is the one to decide when and how the collected items will be used.

The MEP said that the group had conducted talks with EU prime ministers before Friday's incident and until then she had never experienced anything like it. She would not say whether she expected such a turn of events.

So far, she has watched only a part of the video and before commenting on it she would like to watch everything Janša sent to the group and discuss the response with her colleagues in the group.

Asked whether the group will attempt to talk with Janša for a third time, in 't Veld said that its door was always open. However, given that the prime minister cancelled once and left the debate prematurely the second time, it seems there is no will to discuss the matter, she added.

She also highlighted that the monitoring was a process and that the group was no tribunal. It will continue to monitor the situation in Slovenia. In line with standard practice, written questions are expected to be sent this week to Janša and Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti, who did not attend Friday's debate.

In a month or two the group will report its findings to the Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. It is possible the Parliament will then prepare a resolution.

The group's chair believes that there is serious cause for concern over the situation in Slovenia, but Article 7 proceedings are not close yet as Slovenia is not yet at the point where Hungary and Poland are currently.

Regarding contact with Janša, she added that the prime minister would have to face the Parliament when Slovenia takes over the EU presidency.


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