The Slovenia Times

Greens MEPs expresses concern after mission to Slovenia


Ljubljana - Two members of the European Parliament from the Greens-European Free Alliance group have concluded their three-day mission to Slovenia, assessing that, politically-speaking, the situation was very complex, and that they are leaving the country feeling concerned.

The Germans Daniel Freund and Sergey Lagodinsky visited Slovenia between Tuesday to Thursday for a mission ahead of Slovenia's presidency of the Council of the EU.

Lagodinsky told the STA today that during the presidency in the second half of the year, Slovenia should act professionally and distance itself from the so-called alliance of non-liberal countries that included Hungary.

According to him, the purpose of the visit was primarily for the MEPs to get acquainted with the situation in Slovenia in person to get a closer look.

"I have the feeling that the rule of law still functions in Slovenia, it's not as bad as in Hungary or Poland," Lagodinsky added.

However, he sees a pattern of repeated attacks by the ruling Democrats (SDS) and the government on the rule of law, fundamental rights and media, which he sees as concerning as the country is taking over the rotating six-month presidency.

Lagodinsky understands that the situation is very complex, however this does not justify these attacks.

The MEP is convinced that Slovenia should work in the next six months on not becoming an advocate of countries such as Hungary and Poland as this would discredit the country.

Freund meanwhile told the newspaper Delo that the "situation in Slovenia is at least as concerning as I had thought".

He added that while there were countries in the EU where freedom of the press and independence of the judiciary were in a worse position, what was problematic in Slovenia was the direction in which it is going and the pace of deterioration.

Lagodinsky and Freund were also accompanied in Slovenia by another German Greens party member, Franziska Brantner, as part of what had been announced as meetings with representatives of the government and of civil society and the media.

The trio denied that their visit to Slovenia was a classic fact-finding mission, with Brantner saying that it was an opportunity to learn why Slovenia, once the "top student among the new member states", had gained bad reputation in Brussels.

"The non-appointment of European delegated prosecutors is something that worries us, and we have so far not heard any justified reason why this has happened," Brantner told Delo.

Lagodinsky is a member of the European Parliament's democracy monitoring group and was attending the session at which Slovenian PM Janez Janša had a row with chair Sophie in 't Veld over a video clip that Janša wanted to play.

He said that Janša's appearance in front of the group, after which he also had a heated Twitter exchange with the prime minister, was one of the events that had prompted him to visit Slovenia with the colleagues in the first place.

The MEPs think that Janša's decisions, acts and statement raises questions about the upcoming EU presidency, with Freund assessing that many issues, including the suspension of funding of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), would be unavoidable.

"The first time Janša appears before the European Parliament, almost all political groups will want to speak about this. I don't want this to spoil the presidency, but such an outcome is not excluded," he added for Delo.

The mission comes just after the the Media Freedom Rapid Response team wrapped up its mission to Slovenia to talk with various stakeholders in the country. Its report is expected to be compiled by July.


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