Prime Minister Janša is in the news again. This time he took it upon himself to write a monstrosity of a letter regarding the latest EU spat over rule of law in Poland and Hungary and the union’s seven-year budget connected to it. In the letter addressed to EU Council president Charles Michel, Janša manages to come across as a spineless toady for Viktor Orbán and Jarosław Kaczyński, a person with serious delusions of grandeur, and a failed metaphor writer, at the same time.
To put it in a nutshell, the letter is yet another shit-show of epic proportions. Not only did Janša copy the letter to every EU leader, as if he’s on a some kind of a grand diplomatic initiative, he did it at the time when he’s got people at home dying by the hundreds on a weekly basis due to Covid-19. And, in a well-executed maneuver of opening mouth and inserting foot, the Glorious Leader is now crying foul over the very same package his own government voted in favour of in Brussels, only days ago. Thus he backstabbed his own diplomatic apparatus for the second time as many weeks.
He also managed to rub the wrong way pretty much everyone whose last name is not Orbán or Kaczyński. And since the letter is chock-full of half-truths and outright lies, even his coalition partners in Muddy Hollows are pissed off beyond anything we’ve ever seen in this government.
Which is why pengovsky took it upon himself to take you, dear readers (yes, both of you), on a annotated tour of the Glorious Leader’s latest literary achievment.
Buckle up, we’re in for a bumpy ride…
Dear President of the European Council, dear Charles,
Starts well enough. Not too aggressive, no hint yet that he’s about to rip one out, so to speak. That handwriting, tho 😯! (see above)
Never before has the European Union faced a challenge of such magnitude as the COVID crisis, Our health systems have been put under tremendous pressure, and our economies have faced an external and unforeseen shock, which has caused severe disruption in economic activity and put thousands of jobs at risk. Under these conditions, it has been of key importance that the Union has been able to react quickly and decisively. The July agreement of the European Council on the Multiannual Financial Framework and the Next Generation EU has been at the heart of our common response — a truly historical agreement and an unprecedented show of unity.
OK, so it wasn’t just thousands but rather hundreds of thousands of jobs that went bye-bye, but in general, nothing controversial here. Just goes to show the inherent Slovenian incapacity to think in big numbers.
This is exactly what we needed in these challenging times. The EU today is a convoy of ships sailing on rough seas. The ships came together to form the convoy or joined it subsequently because of the prospect of safe navigation in the direction of peace, freedom, and development. The convoy began to form so as not to repeat the tragedies and shipwrecks of the 20th century on the European continent. These have caused tens of millions of deaths, terrible suffering and distress for entire nations, genocide, and slavery under totalitarian regimes,
So, now it starts getting interesting. Convoy of ships? Sailing in the direction of peace, freedom and development? Shipwrecks that have caused tens of millions of deaths and slavery under totalitarian regimes? Just how many naval metaphors can you squeeze in a single paragraph? All of a sudden it looks as if this is going to be, well, rough sailing.
Both the prospect of a good course and the epochal success of the project in the first decades were underpinned by the obvious and genuinely good intentions of the generation that had experienced the shipwrecks. The ultimate proof of the right chosen course came with the fall of the Iron Curtain and the great enlargement of the EU and NATO in 2004. Europe, whole and free, became a tangible goal of the generation that had witnessed killings on the borders between East and West and experienced feelings of hopelessness under the illusion of one party monoliths during their lifetime. Then, in the end, after millions of victims and all the suffering, this generation witnessed the fall of Communism without any war and without a shot being fired.
Ugh. Talk about waxing poetic. The sheer oratory heights implied in this paragraph are matched only by the shallowness of the point being simply carried over from the previous para. Also, pengovsky is not really sure the people of Romania would agree that communism fell without a single shot being fired. And that’s before we take into account the attempted August coup in Soviet Union eighteen months later, or the Yugoslav wars soon thereafter. While complete, the fall of Communism came at a price.
Freedom became tangible and nothing seemed to threaten it. New ships joined the convoy and internal administrative boundaries were falling down. There was a prospect of a golden age with optimism reaching to the sky. In this mood, we failed to take the accumulation of “frozen conflicts” in our eastern neighbourhood seriously enough. The Crimean occupation came as a surprise to everyone. We did not take the warnings of Greece and Cyprus about Ankara ‘s double-play seriously enough, nor the obvious signs that Islam on our borders and even within the EU was moving towards radicalisation instead of modernisation. This has ultimately resulted in terrorist attacks on innocent Europeans — directly on our way of life.
Sweet Jesus on a treadmill. More naval metaphors? Also, nice Yugoslav reflex there with “internal administrative boundaries”. It’s what they were called in the old country, yes. In the EU, however, they are called proper borders and the whole thing is called the Schengen agreement. It’s a big fucking deal.
Other than that, this para is vintage Janša. Everything is positioned in a grander scheme of things, in this case a geopolitical struggle with the Russkies. The same goes for the sudden departure from the linear timeline because it suits his narrative. Vintage.
Take Turkey, for example. Yes, they fancy themselves a regional power-player and Erdoğan has turned out to be a nasty little fucker. What Janša conveniently omits, however, is that EU member states have been dangling the prospect of membership at the country for decades, only to start droning on about Christian identity of the EU when Turkey was poised to finally open negotiations.
No wonder radical version of Islam suddenly became more appealing, and that authoritarian assholes like Erdoğan came to power. After all, conservative EU leaders spent the better part of the “golden age” telling moderate Muslims they’re not European enough. This obviously wasn’t the only cause, but it contributed a hell of a lot.
But yes, do go on about how “we failed to take the accumulation of ‘frozen conflicts'”.
Contrary to optimistic expectations, the sea was not becoming calmer, and sailing was getting rougher instead of easier. The financial crisis struck, followed by the migrant crisis — and then Brexit happened. In the midst of quarrels over whether to jointly plug the cracks in the ships or just share the intruding water, one of the largest ships left the convoy. We found ourselves in a lose-lose situation. Even before we finished the legacy debate with this ship, we found ourselves in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic. We are battling a second wave now, which is proving stronger and more deadly in the EU than the first one.
Oh, now he speaks of the financial crisis. The Glorious Leader is jumping through the timeline like he’s in a goddamn Star Trek episode. But he shouldn’t be mentioning the 2008 clusterfuck too much. Lest someone remind him that he first claimed the whole meltdown is just a cold that requires an aspirin (medical metaphor alert!). Sure enough, he pivots to the migration crisis and Brexit and paints them as sequential and seemingly unrelated events, as if fearmongering over the former did not contribute to the latter.
Also, more naval metaphors. FFS, dude!
At the dramatic European Council meeting in July, we reached, after a major effort, a consensus on a robust financial framework to deal with the effects of the epidemic. However, the recent agreement between the Presidency of the Council of the EU and the European Parliament leadership undermines this consensus. Once again: the rule of law has to be respected across the Union. Everywhere. However, any discretionary mechanisms that are not based on independent judgement but on politically motivated criteria cannot be called “the rule of law”.
Finally. After a page and a half, Marshal Tweeto manages to get to the point. Geez. Also, note the tell-tale “yes, but…” as he writes that “the rule of law has to be respected across the Union. Everywhere. However…”. Basically, he is saying here that the rule of law can be considered a rule of law only as long as it benefits him and his Hungarian master. Otherwise it’s called “politically motivated criteria”.
Those of us who spent part of our lives under a totalitarian regime know that deviation from reality begins when processes or institutions are given a name that reflects the exact opposite of their essence. “People’s democracies” were regimes of one-party dictatorship. The German Democratic Republic was forced to build a wall to prevent people from fleeing on masse from such “democracy”. “Socialist self-management” in the former Yugoslavia was just a cover for the hard hand of the Communist Party in the economy.
Pure drivel. Those of us who spent part of our lives under Janša-run governments know that the deviation from reality begins whenever the Glorious Leader goes on communist witch-hunts, and sports a particular Leninist zeal in doing so.
Today, numerous media and some political groups in the European Parliament are openly threatening to use the instrument wrongly called “the rule of law” in order to discipline individual EU Member States through a majority vote.
Deviation from reality, present and accounted for. Also, notice the hint at the Deep State and other conspiracy theories.
By definition, “the rule of law” means that disputes are decided by an independent court and not by a political majority in any other institution. If a political body calls its decision the rule of law, it thereby takes a first step away from reality. The European Union, however, is founded on the rule of law: on the separation of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of power. A state whose political system is not based on democracy and the rule of law does not at all meet the conditions for membership and for navigating in such a convoy. Subsequently, the Treaty on European Union does not allow any discriminatory action against any Member State upon the political request of any other Member State or any EU institution.
Rule of law. You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.
But make no mistake. The fact that Janša can’t even google a simple Wikipedia definition of the rule of law (spoiler alert: it is much more than just an independent judiciary), has a very specific purpose. He is priming the reader to buy into his notion that no such thing as an independent judiciary exists (unless, of course it is appointed by him and/or his master), hence there can be no application of the principle of the rule of law.
Slovenia has many reasons to be careful when different political groups in the European Parliament invoke the term “the rule of law”. In 2014, we witnessed stolen elections effected through a drastic abuse of state institutions including part of the judiciary — right at the beginning of the election campaign. The Constitutional Court unanimously established that the abuse took place. However, this occurred only after the elections had taken place and the abuse could not be remedied. None of the EU institutions reacted with a single warning at the time of this election theft. In fact, the situation was even worse: key actors involved in the abuse were invited to take senior positions in EU institutions. The European Parliament refused to even discuss the stolen elections in the EU Member State because there was no majority in the collegial body that could put the topic on the agenda. At the same time, there was and still is much debate on the state of democracy in Hungary and in Poland. Even a procedure under Article 7 of the Treaty was initiated, despite the fact that neither country had any known cases of abuse of the judiciary for political reckoning or a single political prisoner during their EU membership — let alone a case of electoral theft as was the case in Slovenia.
You were warned. Here were have Marshal Tweeto in all his sulking glory. He claims 2014 Slovenian election was stolen. It was not. He then states the constitutional court found abuse of power in the Patria case. It did not (it did, however, raise the bar for admissible evidence. How’s that for the rule of law?).
After setting the stage with these two bits of false facts, he again misconstrues the timeline, as the European Parliament was petitioned to debate the “stolen election” while Janša was still in prison. But one should never let facts get in the way of a good story, or something.
Also, note how he inserts his perceived injustices (everyone is out to get me!) into the narrative of democratic standards dropping in Hungary and Poland. Janez got the feelz, man!
This sad experience teaches us that double standards are applied in front of everyone’s eyes. There is more: currently it is insisted that we should not respect the historical agreement from the European Council meeting in July because the political majority in the European Parliament has allegedly decided otherwise and they refer to “the rule of law”.
Pure unadulterated whataboutism. Based on fake news, no less. Also, note one-two-three punch: first, he drones on about the historical July agreement. Then states there is no such thing as the rule of law that can be applied here. Finally, he goes for the jugular by saying that insisting on the rule of law means denying the July deal.
Slovenia supports respecting the rule of law in all cases (including the MFF and RRF instruments), unconditionally, and without double standards. It advocates this position provided that the Treaty on European union is complied with when designing specific instruments and that the law or violations thereof are decided on by an independent court. This is not to be decided just by a political majority, because then this is not the rule of law’, but the rule of a political majority.
So, you’re saying you’re basically OK with the way things are?
Following wrong course, unfortunately, a good future of Europe, whole and free, is slipping out of our hands.
Nice union you have there. Shame, if something were to happen to it…
The sea is already rough enough without the problems we are causing ourselves. China, virtually unaffected in the pandemic, will have a stronger impact than ever before on our voyage. The US has been very divided internally since the recent election — which has never had a good impact on transatlantic relations. Moscow has apparently successfully added Belarus to the list of frozen conflicts. Together with Ankara and without the EU, it is shaping situations from the Baltic to Libya in its own image. Not a month goes by without us being shocked to have to express our condolences to the relatives of the victims of terrorist attacks first in one EU Member State, then in another.
Oh, boy. More naval metaphors. Dude. Just, no. Also, China being virtually unaffected by the pandemic? Earth calling Janša, what the fuck are you on, man? The Glorious Leader may fancy himself a master geostrategist, but in reality even his googling skills suck.
Baltic, Belarus and Libya lumped together as if to show EU’s ineffectivness in common foreign and security policy? If you really squint your eyes, the PM of Muddy Hollows might have a point there. But why is that? Maybe because it is member states who pursue their own interest in the area, often at the cost of common EU interest.
And sometimes it is even member state’s foreign policy being sacrificed in favour of a partisan political interest. Like a certain someone auditioning for the role of Donald Trump’s monkey-boy on Twitter. No wonder he thinks the US got divided only after the November vote. He was too busy kowtowing to Agent Orange for the past four years.
All in all, this is the part of the letter where Janša loses the thread and turns into the rambling uncle nobody wants to talk to at the family dinner.
That is why now more than ever we need unity in terms of where we are headed. We need respect for one another. We need a joint defence of the dignity of all voters in all EU Member States. We need EU institutions that will not be involved in Member States’ internal political conflicts. We need actions guided by the wisdom possessed by the founding fathers of the EU. We need to realise that the foundation of the EU is not about money but values. We need to realise that values ultimately cannot be forced into being with money. This is probably hard for someone who has been born into prosperity to grasp, but it does not absolve them of their responsibility to work towards a good future for the EU.
This is gold. Pure, unadulterated alt-right snowflakish gold.
Demands respect, but fuck your feelings.
Calls for respect of all voters, but tells immigrants to go back where they came from.
Wants EU institutions to avoid internal political strife but turns crybaby when said institutions do exactly that in his case.
Says EU is not about money but writes fuck-me-sideways-this-shit-is-long letter on why money should not be withheld from two member states offending basic EU values.
Lived off the taxpayers money his entire adult life and got caught with his hand in the cookie jar more than once, but has the temerity of calling other member states spoiled brats.
As stated, pure gold. And we still have a whole goddamn page to go.
In front of our ship ‘s convoy called the EU are reefs and icebergs. There are many challenges we can overcome, but only if we abide by the contract that unanimously sets the direction of our voyage. Otherwise, we can only wait for the next ship to leave the convoy.
More maritime metaphors. Pengovsky has this sinking feeling about them… As an avid student of military history, Janša surely knows what happened to the ships that got separated from their convoys during the Battle of the Atlantic. Hint: it wasn’t pretty.
Extremely important steps lie ahead of the EU. We need to adopt a uniform attitude towards the main threats we face and to learn from history. The Western Roman Empire collapsed when foreign mercenaries began to appoint emperors. The Eastern Roman Empire, however, collapsed when a militant Islam overran Byzantium. We need to help Islam to modernise and positively point out those Muslim countries that have already done so. We need to make our external borders secure. Our neighbourhood also needs a functioning EU more than ever, strong and united. A lot is at stake: Eastern Partnership member states, Western Balkans countries, Union for the Mediterranean member states. Being faced with a mountain of problems, neglecting our historical agreement reached at July EUCO is like quarrelling over a menu on a ship sailing towards an iceberg.
What the coal-powered Jesus are we looking at here? Of course the EU needs to adopt a uniform attitude towards the main threat it faces. This is the whole fucking point of the exercise. Lest illiberal regimes continue flaunting basic tenets of liberal democracy and still get to spend European taxpayers’ money by the boatload (if you’ll excuse the maritime metaphor).
Just as important, however, is the demonstration of Janša’s weak grasp on history in general. Putting militant Islam (a very latter-20th-century concept) in the context of the fall of Byzantium is pseudo-science at its worst.
Also, Rome didn’t fall because barbaric tribes gained enough influence to appoint emperors, but because of economic troubles, corruption, loss of core values and because it mishandled mass migrations at the time, by abusing migrant tribes and making an enemy of them. By the time the barbaric tribes were strong enough to appoint Roman emperors, Rome was already dead and everyone knew it.
Furthermore, what Janez Janša is saying here – without even realising it – is that if the EU does what he says it should do, its downfall is all but guaranteed. Yes, a lot is at stake. And if the EU were to give in to petty squabbles, like Janša wants it to, it will be gone sooner rather than later.
The dilemma before us is very simple. Respecting the July EUCO agreement is a responsible approach for the good future of the EU. Disrespecting it is the opposite.
This is correct. This is also not the dilemma here.
Once again, the Glorious Leader tries to hammer the point home (in the letter, this part is in bold, even), realises he can’t really do it and goes in for another paragraph. Oh, shit.
The following days will be critical in terms of finalizing a fair and balanced agreement based on our July agreement. Only by swiftly concluding what we set in motion in July will we be able to meet these high expectations and pave the way towards a stronger Europe in the post pandemic era. In this process, we should maintain our long-term strategic focus and build on the essential political and economic elements of the deal. As we have already proven so many times, I fully believe that we are able to find acceptable solutions that safeguard the integrity of the Treaty based financial and legal framework of the EU. While we are under time pressure, I am convinced that going the extra mile to get everybody on board avoids further delays and will ultimately result in a solid agreement that will keep us united in the wake of uncertainty in the weeks and months ahead. Please accept, dear President, the assurances of my highest consideration.
Please accept, dear President, the assurances of my highest consideration.
Translation: “Thus, I conclude my utter and complete waste of the ten minutes your time that you will never get back. I have tried, and repeatedly failed to make a point that, in all fairness, cannot be made. And yet, I will claim I made it. I also include the necessary fluff about EU deal making and pay lip service to the notion of European solidarity which I just spent an entire letter thrashing. Also, disregard the fact that the concluding phrase repeats twice. I really should fire the person who proof-read this”.
So, this is it. Congratulations for making it this far. To be honest, pengovsky can’t really see how this could either benefit the situation in general or Janša in particular. His coalition partners are enraged, the Europeans are livid, and whatever he says from here on now, will be considered dubious at best by his international partners.
The only upside is that it is now for the entire world to see what Muddy Hollows has had to endure from this man for the last three goddamned decades.