Journalists noticed it immediately yesterday: the traditional family photo in which the members of the European Commission pose with the government of the country that will temporarily become EU president, was missing Frans Timmermans, the Dutch vice president of the Commission.
“I just couldn’t stand on the same stage with Prime Minister Jansa after his unacceptable attack on two judges and two Social Democratic MEPs,” Timmermans – himself a Social Democrat – said in a statement. “He questioned their integrity because they were in the same photo. The independence of the judiciary and respect for the role of elected MEPs are cornerstones of the rule of law. The EU cannot function without those cornerstones. We can never stop challenging those who attack it.”
Also read this profile of Jansa: ‘Marshal Twito’ is Europe’s unknown populist
Orban, Trump and the deep state
What exactly had happened? During the meeting with the members of the Commission, Jansa showed a photo at the end showing two Slovenian judges in the company of two social-democratic Slovenian MEPs: Tanja Fajon and Milan Brglez. For everyone to see, the heads of the two judges were circled in blue and their names were listed. Jansa provided an accompanying comment that it was now clear what he was dealing with in Slovenia: communists infiltrating the justice system. Timmermans then decided to give a signal and fail.
There was already a fear in advance that Jansa, who is a member of the European People’s Party, would cause problems as rotating president of the European Union. In that position, he is expected to adopt a neutral stance and to work out compromises in legislative files with his ministers. He is known as a supporter of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and, in the style of Donald Trump, on Twitter systematically attacks journalists, MPs and lawyers who he believes are part of a deep state in Slovenia. According to Jansa, this alleged ‘shadow state’ would pursue the continuation of the pre-1989 communist regime.
Also read this article: Concerns about ‘the immune system’ of Slovenian democracy
A version of this article also appeared in NRC in the morning of July 2, 2021