Sandwiched between Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia, Slovenia is a tiny country of 2.1 million people. However, for the next six months, it will set the agenda of the European Council.
Speaking after his country assumed the council’s rotating presidency last week, Jansa made it clear that his priorities might not line up with those of the bloc’s western powers. Railing at the Slovenian “mainstream media” and its alleged allies in the country’s judiciary, Jansa also spoke out against the EU’s promotion of its liberal values in eastern and central Europe, LGBT causes among them.
Imposing “imaginary European values,” he argued, would be the “fastest road to collapse” for the bloc.
“The European Union brings together countries with different traditions, with different cultures… there are differences that need to be taken into account and respected,” he stated.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen openly disagreed with Jansa during the press briefing, saying that “freedom of expression, diversity and equality” are fundamental “European values” that need to be upheld.
The clash between Jansa and von der Leyen is just one more battle in a growing cultural conflict between the western swathe of the EU and the center and east. In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has led the charge against Brussels in this conflict, angering the liberal West by passing a law forbidding the portrayal of homosexuality to children. The EU in return has threatened legal action against Hungary, and 17 western European leaders signed a letter last month condemning “discrimination towards the LGBTI community” and their “fundamental rights.”
Orban has insisted that the law does not discriminate against the LGBT community, but allows parents to decide what to teach their children about matters of gender and sexuality.
Jansa has taken a similar line. Responding to von der Leyen on Friday, he said that the pair had “a sincere discussion on what human rights are,” but that he defended “the right of parents to educate their children” as they see fit. Von der Leyen responded that “the right of parents to educate their children was not at all disputed,” but “the question was … whether the amendments of existing laws discriminate against minorities.”
Jansa also proclaimed that Slovenia is not “a colony” of the EU to be dictated to, much like Orban last week decried the Dutch “colonial” mentality, after Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte declared earlier that Hungary “has no business being in the European Union any more” if it doesn’t submit to the bloc’s position on LGBT rights.