Rutte clashes with Slovenian PM over tweet about Dutch MEP
Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte clashed heavily with his Slovenian colleague Janez Jansa. On Thursday, Rutte refused to ignore a "totally inappropriate and tasteless tweet" by Jansa about Dutch Members of the European Parliament and summoned the Slovenian ambassador. Jansa then fired back on Twitter.
"Don't waste your time with ambassadors and press freedom in Slovenia," Jansa replied to the tweet in which Rutte vented his feelings. The Slovenian Prime Minister referred to the murder of Peter R. de Vries, who his government has already cited several times to show that the Netherlands should instead focus on its own troubles. "Rather protect your journalists from dying on the street, together with MEP Sophie in 't Veld."
The two heads of government clashed after Jansa had, among other things, shared a tweet from someone else calling D66 MEP In 't Veld "George Soros's puppet." Jansa considers wealthy philanthropist Soros, known for his donations to progressive pro-EU projects, a major driver of a leftist conspiracy. According to him, former and current MEPs from PvdA, GroenLinks, and VVD, and the late VVD MEP Hans van Baalen are also in Soros's pocket.
In 't Veld is a well-known advocate for close European cooperation. Jansa has quarreled with the liberal MEP before. But the Slovenian Prime Minister is once again turning against the Dutch woman now that she is leading a delegation of MEPs on inspection in Slovenia. They're checking whether the Slovenian rule of law is indeed slipping under Jansa. The Prime Minister sees this as unwanted interference from a leftist clique that is out to get him.
The D66 and Mark Rutte's VVD are in the same faction in the European Parliament. Jansa and kindred spirits, such as Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, often target the Netherlands, Rutte, and European Commissioner Frans Timmermans.
The Slovenian government is holding the presidency of the EU, from whom a diplomatic, mediating stance is usually expected, this six months. But Jansa doesn't seem to care about that unwritten rule. While good cooperation requires "mutual trust and respect," European Parliament President David Sassoli reminded him on Twitter.
"We urgently call on Prime Minister Jansa to stop the provocations against MEPs," Sassoli tweeted. Such attacks also affect the EU citizens who elected them, he warned.
Jansa also turned against Sassoli with a personal attack. "Slovenia is not a colony," and MEPs are engaged in "political intrigue" and "fanciful allegations," the Prime Minister tweeted.
Rutte and Jansa will meet next week at a European summit in Brussels.
Reporting by ANP.