Debate On Slovenian Council Presidency

This week, we hosted a discussion with the European Parliament Liaison Office (EPLO) in Ljubljana. Together with the EPLO representative, 18 participants from different EU countries (aged between 18 and 75) exchanged perspectives on the current political situation in Slovenia and evaluated the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency in terms of urgency and the possibilities or the will to implement them.

During the discussion, three focal points emerged that caused concerns among the participants:

Press freedom

First Concern: Slovenia’s controversial prime minister Janša. Participants were concerned about media freedom in Slovenia, especially the government’s attempt to silence critical media and other critical voices, including NGOs, with a generally repressive tone and actions. Another point of concern was Hungarian money close to Orbán’s circles pouring into Slovenia’s media landscape.

EU-Values

Second Concern: Interpretation of common European values. The participants were worrying which European values the EU Presidency under Janša’s leadership would like to strengthen. The prevailing opinion was that Slovenia’s ruling coalition tries to reinterpret common European values towards traditional values using a nationalistic narrative.

EU Enlargement

Third Concern: Further Enlargement of the Bloc. The European Parliament Liaison Office’s representative emphasized that Slovenia advocates for the Western Balkans integration in the EU. First, because Slovenia doesn’t want this geostrategic vacuum to be filled by Russia and China. Second, because Slovenia is part of the region. That is why it is striving for further integration with its neighbors, not only politically but also in the areas of transport, digitalization, environmental and climate action. To push for Western Balkans enlargement, Slovenia will host an EU summit with representatives of the six Balkan countries on October 6, in Ljubljana. This summit was welcomed by the participants. However, some attendees expressed concerns about the unanimity principle weakening the capacity of an enlarged EU to act. They would only support an EU enlargement if there were reforms, i.e. abolishing of the right of veto.