Slovenia will be honest broker in EU rights dispute, PM says

By Sabine Siebold BRDO, Slovenia (Reuters) -Slovenia will act as an honest broker in European Union disputes over the rule of law and human rights while it holds the bloc’s six-month presidency, Prime Minister Janez Jansa said on Thursday. As some eastern EU countries make anti-gay policies part of their governing platforms, nationalist Jansa is being watched with concern from Brussels given his prominent new role leading many EU meetings until end-December.

“As far as Slovenia is concerned, Slovenia can be an honest broker when dealing with conflicts,” Jansa told a news conference in Brdo, near the capital Ljubljana, alongside European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “The rule of law is the basic framework of the European civilization,” he said after talks with EU commissioners. The EU is concerned by legal challenges in Hungary and Poland to the supremacy of EU law as Brussels seeks to uphold democratic principles and the independence of the judiciary in its 27 member states.

EU leaders confronted Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, last week at a summit over Budapest’s new anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender law. Poland could face EU legal action over “LGBT-free” zones. Jansa, who is close to Orban, told reporters there were no major differences between EU countries over these issues at last week’s summit.

Jansa and the Polish prime minister were reportedly the only leaders to back Orban on Hungary’s anti-LGBT law. French President Emmanuel Macron spoke of a fundamental “East-West divide” on human rights, media freedom and LGBT rights. Nevertheless, he added that the EU would not become a “melting pot” over the next decades.

“If you think that an EU consisting of 27 member states will within a couple of years or decades become a melting pot in which we will think alike, then you should think again,” he said. Orban took out newspaper advertisements this week in European media, including in Spain and Denmark, to accuse the EU of trying to build a “European superstate” based on migration policies to which he objected.
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Asked to react by reporters, Von der Leyen said she welcomed the freedom of expression in the EU. The Commission declined to comment on the editorial choices or advertising policies of newspapers. One Belgian newspaper, De Standaard, said it had rejected a Hungarian request to run the advertisement, saying that Orban had sought to dismantle a free press in Hungary.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold, writing by Robin Emmott; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Angus MacSwan)