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Interview with MEP dr. Milan Zver: Written call on Sophie in ‘t Veld to restore the reputation of EU parliament by resigning

MEP dr. Milan Zver (Photo: Demokracija archive)

By: Boris Cipot / vfokusu.com

On Friday, at the European Parliament, the central temple of democracy in the European Union, we witnessed a scandalous precedent set by Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld as president of the Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group, during the discussion of the issue of the rule of law and media freedom in Slovenia.

The Prime Minister Janez Janša and the Minister of Culture Vasko Simoniti actively participated in a video conference. Even before the session, it was agreed that a documentary on democracy and the state of the media landscape in Slovenia would be shown after the end of Janez Janša’s discussion. Arrangements for the broadcast of the video took place through the Slovenian ambassador in Brussels, Iztok Jarc, and the presiding in ‘t Veld even assured him that a graphic presentation would be possible. Although the recording was prepared, it was followed by its arbitrary withdrawal by presiding Sophie in ’t Veld. As the protest of Prime Minister Janša did not help, he left the video conference.

In an interview we asked the MEP of the ELS/EPP dr. Milan Zver about the Friday’s happenings at the European Parliament and the response of the Prime Minister Janez Janša.

Is it possible to draw a parallel between the events in the Slovenian parliament, in which the left wing opposition is constantly trying to overthrow the coalition government of Janez Janša, and Friday’s scandal, which has a very strong touch of an agenda, except that it is not Janša?

Yes, that is right, some parallels between the Slovenian and European scene could be drawn. As far as the left is concerned at home and in the EU, they both operate on the same platform. What we saw at Sophie in ‘t Veld is just a copy of the functioning of Tanja Fajon S&D on the Slovenian scene. The Dutch MP has always shown her affiliation with radical leftist views in her speeches. She is constantly opening up some radical topics, that is why she does not enjoy much respect among her colleagues. Proverbially, she played the role of a “lackey” for Belgian Liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt. And that reputation still holds true today.

What she did on Friday, to censor a Prime Minister of one of the EU member states is a precedent. Given her attitude, with whom she is in political company, her move was also expected. I was afraid something like this would happen. In a way, she has tainted the European temple of democracy, where the spirit of democratic and open dialogue should reign, and she has made an effort to push these values to the sidelines. I strongly believe that Sophie in ‘t Veld had many “whisperers” before and during the session, especially her colleagues, also from Slovenia (Fajon, Joveva…). Many SMS messages caught her lying when it came to broadcasting a documentary that Prime Minister Janša wanted to show, she said she did not know what its content was. The truth, however, is that she did not want to show the documentary because the construct of discrediting the government of Janez Janša that it stifles media freedom in Slovenia would collapse in an instant. The documentary shows that the violence against journalists was carried out by left wing governments, from Bratušek, through Cerar to Šarec!

Friday’s events remind me of the “big bang,” of something we have already experienced. Lies and incitements about the endangered rule of law and the disabling of journalists and media by the government of Janša made by the Slovene left and its media, is like a good merchandise, roaming the ideological allies and the media, which ended with the “big fall” in Brussels? Can this be attributed to the fact that we will take over the leadership of the European Union in three months?

This is one side of the story. But there is another one. It is true that in normal politics, the presidencies in the European Union are not used to pursue one’s own narrow political interests. In Slovenia, of course, the scene is different. The left-wing opposition “goes for the jugular” because they are not interested in the presidency itself, only that the government of Janša is tarnished in Europe and that the assessments of its EU presidency would be poor because he deals with domestic issues and not EU development projects.

Let me remind you that the presidency of the EU in 2008 during the first government of Janša received the highest marks, which have not been exceeded by any presidency so far. This is exactly what the Slovene left wing opposition does not want to allow, so it is pouring all this manure on the government of Janez Janša at home and in Europe.

The second problem in this regard is bigger and even fatal for our future in the European Union. It is not just about reputation during the presidency, but it is about the status of Slovenia, which can be even more problematic in the coming years. In the European Parliament, we have adopted a mechanism that makes it difficult or even impossible for countries where the rule of law is not appropriate to absorb European funds. And this is the main problem! One day, politicians from today’s politics making disagreements at home and in Europe will have to ask themselves whether they are aware that the “label” of violations of the rule of law and media freedom can directly affect the mechanism for drawing European funds. This can have serious consequences for the direct development of Slovenia. In the coming years, Europe will invest much more in new jobs than the Slovenian economy alone. So far, around 30% of the funds have been earmarked for this, and much more in the future. In addition to the regular EU budget, there is a new fund for recovery from the covid epidemic with enormous billions of euros, let’s also add the financing of agricultural policy, and some other project resources. By 2030, at least 12 billion euros of fresh investment money will be accumulated, which the Slovenian economy alone cannot invest in the development of Slovenia. And if someone decides that Slovenia is not entitled to these funds, a developmental “ice age” awaits us. We have seen this in Hungary and Poland, which the Slovenian left is simply not aware of!

The intention of the Slovene left is more than transparent, to add Slovenia next to Poland and Hungary on the verge of shame. It is therefore a little surprising to me that so far in your ELS/EPP political group, Friday’s events have not received a louder reaction. The leader of the ELDS/EPP parliamentary group in the EU Parliament Manfred Weber remains silent, as well as the EPP President Donald Tusk!?

I would first like to see the ELS/EPP political group in the European Parliament to respond to Friday’s events. President Manfred Weber will have to formulate a clear position and ensure that there is a plenary debate in the EU Parliament on the situation in Slovenia from the point of view of the rule of law and media freedom. I myself will do my utmost to get the debate going and to give us the opportunity to explain to Members, who for the most part have a very superficial perception and understanding of the situation in individual EU Member States. I have started writing a letter to the EU Parliament’s leadership, and I will try to get another colleague to sign it. The letter shows a clear request for Sophie in ‘t Veld to step down as head of the European Parliament’s Democracy Monitoring Group, because she has caused the Group and the EU Parliament itself an irreparable damage to the reputation of the highest European institution. I will also add the request to enable Slovenia to present a realistic picture of the situation in our country. I am sure that this “censorship” story will continue.

As for Donald Tusk, I think he is the “undertaker” of the European People’s Party. His predecessor Joseph Daul always tried to strengthen and develop the EPP, he always led a creative dialogue, he knew how to listen to both Orban and Janša, he also said something critical, but he acted in a unifying way, he acted as a link. However, now we do not have a person in the ELS/EPP who would act as a liaison. Tusk is doing the exact opposite, so I am afraid of the fate of a political group that has been active since 1976, and had been the strongest political group in Europe since the late 1990s, but is in such poor shape today. I am afraid that nothing big will happen, precisely because we do not have enough capable and charismatic leaders who, on the one hand, understand the situation and, on the other hand, know how to consolidate the ranks of the European People’s Party. We would need the face of a leader like Wilfried Martens, who was a leader with a capital letter.

“Overpaid bureaucrats who were born into prosperity will not preach to us about freedom and democracy. Nor will we ever agree to be censored by self-proclaimed ombudsmen,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša in response to Sophie in’ t Veld’s scandalous arbitrariness. The statement reveal uprightness and determination?

True! Due to her aggressiveness in the European Parliament, this Member does not enjoy any special reputation. Nevertheless, it will be necessary to fight especially resolutely for the truth about the actual situation in Slovenia, as far as the rule of law and media freedom are concerned. This fight will not be easy, because the left has a majority in the EU Parliament when it comes to deciding at the Conference of Presidents, when deciding which content will come and which will not be on the agenda of EU Parliament sittings.

That is why I believe that there will have to be, and there will be, restructuring in the EU Parliament. If not now, during the current term of the EU MEPs, it will certainly happen before the next European elections. That is why I strongly want the ELS/EPP to find a suitable way out before that, solutions that would put it back in the strongest political group in the EU Parliament. The cards will be redistributed relatively quickly. As a Slovene, I hope that the left will not spoil our lives in the European Union. Firstly, during our presidency of the EU, and secondly, with assessments that Slovenia does not respect the rule of law and freedom of the media, which can consequently hit us in the dynamics of drawing European funds or even to divert inflows from the EU. In such a case, however, the situation becomes serious. I myself do not reject the need for such debates, which are necessary, but not by putting the whole country in a hopeless situation, so to speak, a hostage of the narrow political interests of the Slovenian left, “as long as it is not Janša!”

All in all, it is about the €12 billion which are waiting in the Brussels coffers in this financial perspective. The money offers a tremendous opportunity for investment cycle b economy, which after the end of the covid epidemic needs oxygen for a new development impetus. There is also healthcare, construction of hospitals, homes for the elderly. All of this, as they began, can only be spoiled by the left with destructive action at home and abroad.

With the events on Friday, the European Parliament took a painful slap in the face, as the values written down among the reasons for the annual award of the Sakharov Prize were trampled on.

Of course, this is a slap in the face, a slap in the face to the culture of dialogue, which was at a fairly high level in the EU Parliament. For one Member to prevent the presentation of the facts of the Prime Minister of a Member State is, of course, a precedent. Janša comes from a small country, MEP Sophie in ’t Veld from a bigger one, but that does not mean that the rule of the stronger applies. The Parliament is a place for debate, for dialogue, not a restriction of these rights. The Dutch Member is also a member of the Libe Committee, which deals with human rights and fundamental human freedoms, and with her doing she herself has tarnished the image of the European Parliament.

This will also be the focus of the letter, in which we will demand the resignation of Sophie in ’t Veld from the position of leader of the Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group, thus restoring the face of credibility to the Libe Committee and the European Parliament.

Source: vfokusu.com

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