Wednesday, December 8

EU enlargement, migration and the rule of law: Janez Janša gives his opinion

EU leaders just had a one-day summit at Brdo castle in Slovenia to discuss the enlargement of the EU and the six remaining Western Balkan countries. Brussels wants to be a key player in the region and has reaffirmed its commitment to the six countries, but so far it has not set clear deadlines for enlargement. The Prime Minister of Slovenia, Janez Janša, gave us his vision of the enlargement of the EU and the growing challenges within the bloc.

Do you see any risk that the EU will lose its credibility if countries that are aligning themselves with the criteria for EU membership cannot join the club?

Janez Janša, Prime Minister of Slovenia:

“Yes, of course, this risk is evident, but for a few years, the expansion, as decided in the Thessaloniki Summit 2003, where EU membership was granted for the Western Balkan countries, is coming back (again) to the agenda. I think that little by little we are gaining momentum again, but it is still … There is still a long way to go. But, after a long battle, we managed to put the word enlargement in the declaration. Now that there is a consensus of the 27 member states that enlargement is (again) on the table again, we cannot negotiate a 10-year deadline for the process, but we are not yet giving up. “

There are growing tensions in the region, in several countries of the Western Balkans, do you think that the EU has any responsibility for this because citizens are losing hope of one day joining the bloc?

Janez Janša, Prime Minister of Slovenia:

“The region, the Western Balkans or the Balkans, this is the region that, according to known history, has been the region of tensions. If you discuss, for example, about borders, borders are still important in the Western Balkans So I don’t see any good solution that can be taken by consensus in the region and also in Europe. But the solution for such problems is that we are making borders less important and with EU membership, borders are less important. “

But this is still far from happening, at least for the moment.

Janez Janša, Prime Minister of Slovenia:

“It depends…”

Are you worried that if the EU doesn’t change course or if it doesn’t give a specific timetable or deadline for enlargement, these countries will turn more to Russia or China?

Janez Janša, Prime Minister of Slovenia:

“The European Union is the largest investor in the region. It is very important that they appreciate it. But in those areas, we have competitors. There are also, as you said, China, Russia and Turkey. They also come with investments and we are not conditioning this. We are conditioning this with European standards, the rule of law, reforms and that is fine if there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But if the prospect of EU membership is not granted, I think we will start losing this competition, the battle. from the competition. So it’s very clear … “

Are you saying there is a real risk?

Janez Janša, Prime Minister of Slovenia:

“There is one, there is only one great advantage on our side and this is membership of the EU.”

EU defense and migration are high on the agenda again. Afghanistan was a watershed moment and the High-level Forum on Resettlement dedicated to the situation in Afghanistan Should the EU make concrete commitments to Afghans so that they can legally migrate to Europe, Afghans who need to legally migrate to Europe?

Janez Janša, Prime Minister of Slovenia:


Shouldn’t the EU live up to its humanitarian values?

Janez Janša, Prime Minister of Slovenia:

“Afghans in need, I think, were part of this category and are already in Europe. Some of them are in the United States. But for everyone else who wants to emigrate to Europe for economic reasons, not because they were part of the NATO missions. and others, and they are not in danger, I think we have to use the usual procedures. If they meet the criteria, yes, and if not, no, not the so-called humanitarian corridors, no. The European Union will not repeat the mistake that some countries made members in 2015 after the war in Syria “.

Do you think Germany made a mistake in 2015?

Janez Janša, Prime Minister of Slovenia:

“I think Germany made a mistake. Imagine, Slovenia is a country of two and a half million people and in a few weeks of 2015, half a million managed to cross the country. Our border collapsed and the borders of some other countries also collapsed. So it is not only the final phase of the consequences, it is also the process and the path, etc. If you remember the campaign for Brexit, you know, all those columns that cross Croatia, Slovenia were used for those who advocated for the Brexit “.

“They were used,” as you say. Maybe it’s part of the propaganda, the political propaganda in some parts of Europe.

Janez Janša, Prime Minister of Slovenia:

“You know, it’s difficult if you see thousands of military, you know, young men, men with military capabilities crossing the border without families, without women, without children and taking them all as refugees. You know, this is not happening, you cannot sell this. “

There are different approaches within the bloc when it comes to humanitarian values. Some member states insist that they want to uphold the rule of law and some other states, especially eastern member states, have a different opinion on this, but signed the treaties that very clearly describe what these values ​​are. What do you feel about it? How sustainable is this?

Janez Janša, Prime Minister of Slovenia:

“There is what is written in the treaty and then there is the political use or abuse of the term rule of law. So we have a European charter, a charter of human rights, but in political language, especially in the European Parliament, everyone can add to this list whatever he or she wants. So it’s a politically abused term used for political battle. “

But aren’t freedom of the press and judicial independence part of the rule of law?

Janez Janša, Prime Minister of Slovenia:

“No. Freedom of expression, which also includes freedom of the press and the independence of the judiciary, is not only value, it is part of the system, not only of the European Union, but it is part of the constitutional system of all states. If this is not the case, you will not be able to become a member of the European Union. “

Do you feel that Slovenia, Hungary and Poland are being politically attacked?

Janez Janša, Prime Minister of Slovenia:

“Well, if you gather the majority in the European Parliament and this is the political majority, you can name and blame any country. So I don’t think this is very good. The European Parliament is a place for political debates and also for political conflicts. But it is not the same with the European Commission and the European Council. According to the treaty, the European Commission should stay out of political battles, which is what happened until the Juncker Commission and then this changed. I think this is close. to break the rule of law because the Commission has to be an honest broker, so addressing the problems … “

Not doing this?

Janez Janša, Prime Minister of Slovenia:

“Not in all cases. For example, Věra Jourová it is, in my opinion, issuing statements that are a clear violation of the treaty. But he has the support of the European press. “

Can you still shape European politics with the people you think are attacking your approach to democracy?

Janez Janša, Prime Minister of Slovenia:

“I think the European Union will survive if we are able to combine those two levels of democratic decisions. One is at the national level and the second is at the European level. Sometimes there are clashes there, which is understandable because this is the first time we have done this “.

To see Janez Janša’s full interview, click on the media player above.

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