Janša under fire over “Soros puppets” tweet

Ljubljana/Brussels – Prime Minister Janez Janša has faced heavy criticism after publishing a tweet implying that many members of the European Parliament are “Soros puppets”, including Sophie in ‘t Veld, the chair of a fact-finding mission currently examining Slovenia’s compliance with rule of law and media freedom covenants.

“We urgently call on Janša to cease the provocations against members of the European Parliament. Attacks on members of this house are also attacks on European citizens,” European Parliament President David Sassoli said on Twitter.

“A constructive collaboration with the rotating Council Presidency can only be based on mutual trust and respect,” he said.

The statement came after Janša tweeted an image with the heading “13 of the 226 known Soros puppets in the EU parliament”, a reference to Hungarian billionaire George Soros.

Janša, who has often accused political opponents of being on Soros’s payroll, has since deleted the tweet.

The image he tweeted has been traced by Twitter sleuths to a radical hate blog. Some of the people in the image are no longer MEPs and one passed away earlier this year.

Some accused Janša of anti-Semitism, including the Dutch MEP Malik Azmani, who described the image as a “despicable, anti-Semitic trope”, and vice-president of Renew Europe, and German Green MEP Daniel Freund, who said Janša “peddles Orban-style anti-Semitic conspiracy theories”.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte described Janša’s tweet as “tasteless” and condemned it “in the strongest possible terms”. “The government just conveyed this same sentiment to the Slovenian ambassador in The Hague,” he said.

Janša retorted that Rutte should not “waste time with ambassadors and media freedom in Slovenia. Together with @SophieintVeld, protect your journalists from being killed on the streets.”

This was just one of the tweets referencing the fact-finding mission in recent days.

This afternoon, he responded to a tweet by the European Socialists and Democrats, who said Janša refused to meet with the European Parliament’s fact-finding mission.

“Who are you? How many times have you visited a German chancellor, a Dutch PM or a French president?” Janša said.

“By the way, it’s Netherlands where the last journalist was killed in the #EU. In Slovenia, such attempts were executed only during the regime of your comrades” from the ranks of the Social Democrats (SD), he said.

SD president Tanja Fajon, herself an MEP, said she felt ashamed. “I hope my colleagues understand Slovenia is much more than Janez Janša.”

Slovenian Renew MEP Irena Joveva described Janša’s tweets as “vile provocations” and in a joint statement with fellow Renew MEP Klemen Grošelj rejected the “anti-Semitic message in the prime minister’s post”.

MEP Milan Zver, a member of Janša’s Democrats (SDS), meanwhile hit back at Sassoli saying his statement was “politically motivated and indicates ignorance of the situation in Slovenia.”