Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, who is under pressure to resign over allegations he violated financial disclosure rules, has put European Council President Herman Van Rompuy in an embarrassing situation by publishing a statement saying the European leader had given Janša his “personal support”.
The prime minister's office said in a statement that Janša and Van Rompuy spoke by telephone on Thursday (10 January) and portrayed the conversation as a gesture of support for the embattled Slovenian leader.
“The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, today called the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Janez Janša, and expressed his personal support in connection with recent political developments in Slovenia. He stressed the importance of political stability in times when vital reforms and measures of strategic importance to the state are being adopted,” the Slovenian statement reads.
Dirk De Baker, Van Rompuy’s spokesperson, confirmed that a telephone call had taken place between the Council president and Janša.
“That phone call was one of a series to other European leaders regarding the succession of [Jean-Claude] Juncker as chair of the Europgroup. It is one of the series of phone calls the president of the European Council gave in that context. The president never interferes in national politics,” De Backer said.
Asked if a statement such as the one published on the Slovenian website should not have been agreed bilaterally, he said he would not comment any further.
According to EurActiv sources, Van Rompuy’s staff was taken by surprise by the Slovenian statement and learned about it Thursday night, when Slovenian journalists first called for confirmation.
Janša, who is affiliated with the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), was accused by the Slovenian anti-corruption agency of failing to report €210,000 in private assets in accordance with the government's financial disclosure rules.
Some of his own allies urged the prime minister to step down.
Zoran Janković, the leader of the opposition party Positive Slovenia (PS), was also accused of failing to disclose assets.