The Slovenia Times

Minister takes flack over French far right statement

Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič. Photo: Katja Kodba/STA

Slovenian Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič has been hit with criticism after saying in an interview that he would have no problem working with a French far right government in the event Marine Le Pen's National Rally wins the upcoming parliamentary election.

He argued in an interview for the Brussels-based outlet Politico published on 20 June that finance ministers' relationships rely more on the personalities involved than their political leanings.

"I get along better with most of the ministers of finance whether they are socialist or conservative, compared to my colleagues in my own government," said Boštjančič.

While French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire recently warned of the possibility of a sovereign debt crisis in France if the far right took power, Boštjančič suggested that the advance of the far right in the European Parliament election earlier this month will not have a negative impact.

"I don't believe that ... the elections and the political board turning to the right ... will have a negative effect," said the minister, a member of the liberal Freedom Movement.

The Finance Ministry rushed to play down the comments saying the minister did not share the values of the far right, while stressing the importance of cooperation as the context in which his statements should be interpreted.

"He believes that as finance minister he must cooperate with any other minister or government within the EU," the ministry said in a statement circulated to the press.

Despite the additional explanations, several cabinet colleagues of Boštjančič's from the ranks of the left-wing coalition partners have criticised his comments.

Matjaž Han, leader of the Social Democrats, said the rise of the far right in the EU should not be underestimated. "Their ideology of division, intolerance and hatred is completely at odds with the values we stand for - equality, solidarity and respect for human rights."

Similarly, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon, the party's former leader, said the rise of far right parties was a slap in the face of democracy and a threat to stability.

Boštjančič's statements were very unfortunate "no matter how well he cooperates with finance ministers from all political groups," added Matej Tašner Vatovec, deputy group leader of the Left.

"I'm confident that Minister Boštjančič already regrets these statements," added Luka Mesec, labour minister and the Left's former leader.


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