UpdateOutgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte has collided with his Slovenian colleague Janez Janša. On Thursday, Rutte did not let a ‘totally inappropriate and tasteless tweet’ by Janša about Dutch MEPs pass and summoned the Slovenian ambassador. Janša then fired back on Twitter.
“Don’t waste your time with ambassadors and press freedom in Slovenia,” Janša replied on the tweet in which Rutte had vented his heart. The Slovenian prime minister again referred to the murder of Peter R. de Vries, who his government has already cited several times to show that the Netherlands can better focus on its own troubles. ‘Prefer to protect your journalists from dying on the street, together with MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld.’
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The two heads of government clashed after Janša had, among other things, shared a tweet from someone else in which D66 member In ‘t Veld is called a ‘Puppet of George Soros’. Janša considers wealthy philanthropist Soros, who is known for his donations to progressive pro-EU projects, a major driver of a leftist conspiracy. Former and current MEPs from PvdA, GroenLinks and VVD and the late VVD MEP Hans van Baalen are also said to be in Soros’s pocket.
In ‘t Veld is a well-known advocate of close European cooperation. Janša has quarreled with the liberal MEP before. But the Slovenian Prime Minister is once again turning against the Dutch now that she is leading a delegation of MEPs on inspection in Slovenia. They come to check whether the Slovenian rule of law under Janša is indeed slipping. The prime minister sees unwanted interference from a leftist clique that is out to get him out.
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D66 and Mark Rutte’s VVD are in the same group in the European Parliament. Janša and kindred spirits such as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán often choose the Netherlands, Rutte and European Commissioner Frans Timmermans as targets.
The Slovenian government will hold the presidency of the EU this six months, from whom a diplomatic, mediating stance is usually expected. But Janša doesn’t care about that unwritten rule. While good cooperation really requires ‘mutual trust and respect’, European Parliament President David Sassoli reminded him again on Twitter.
“We urgently call on Prime Minister Janša to stop the provocations against MEPs,” Sassoli tweeted. Such attacks also affect the EU citizens who elected them, he warns.
Janša also turns himself personally against Sassoli. “Slovenia is not a colony” and MEPs are said to be engaged in “political intrigue” and “discretionary allegations,” the prime minister tweeted.
Rutte and Janša will meet next week at a European summit in Brussels.
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