Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša urged Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld (Rinovoj / D66) to resign as chair of the European Parliament’s democracy monitoring group. His call came after Friday’s public consultation on the situation in Slovenia and allegations that the Janša government is censoring the media.
Janša urged in ‘t Veld to resign, accusing him of irreparable damage to the reputation and credibility of the Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group.
“The Slovenian government takes freedom of speech and freedom of the media very seriously, and therefore we do not accept censorship,” reads a letter written in ‘t Veld by Peter Wuhel, Jan Jana’s chief of staff. Memories of a time when newspaper articles had to be approved by communist authorities are still very much alive in Slovenia, he adds.
“Your censorship reminds you dangerously of that time. However, I am pleased that you did this in front of the European public… As I believe you have irreparably damaged the Group’s reputation and credibility with this action, I urge you to step down as Chairman of DRFMG, so that it can “Gain the trust of the Members of the European Parliament and the citizens of the EU through a new leadership and its credible work”, writes Wuhel.
The letter is addressed to ‘t Veld, however a copy of it was also sent to Manfred Weber, the leader of the European People’s Party (EPP) in Parliament.
The EPP, whose membership is the Janca Democrats (SDS), did not comment on Friday’s developments. During Friday’s debate, the Prime Minister presented a video of attacks on the media and journalists which he insisted should appear as part of the debate before question time, however in ‘t Veld refused to allow it. Instead, she proposed that the video be shown at the end of the debate.
Jança responded by accusing him of censorship. Over the weekend, he posted on Twitter that Slovenia owes absolutely nothing to Brussels. Some Slovenes have paid the price of freedom and democracy for 35 years, and “highly paid bureaucrats born in prosperity will not preach to us about freedom and democracy,” he said.
MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld (Rinovo / D66), denied allegations of censorship. The impression that Parliament is an opponent of Slovenia is unfortunate and far from the truth, she told STA on Monday.
The MEP said the group was willing to co-operate and would do everything it could to help Slovenia avoid a scenario seen in Hungary and Poland.
She said the group conducted its work in a neutral, calm and professional manner. The band members regret that the latest developments had become a spectacle. “It almost looks like the European Parliament was an opponent of Jança or Slovenia, which is far from the truth,” Veld told STA by telephone.
If Jança believes a wrong impression has been made, he can always contact the group, she added.