Saturday, May 28, 2011

Slovenia part 2 (of 2): about lobby groups, undemocratic means, interference in internal politics and the beautiful surroundings

The second day we had a meeting with the civic initiative committee. It was encouraging for me to speak with two of their representatives. Pressed by (mostly West-European) lobby groups, the government wants to change the family laws in order to allow same-sex marriages. That this is against the will of the majority of the Slovenian population (as the polls show us), does not matter too much for the government. Unfortunately, this trend you see in many European countries nowadays.

Often undemocratic means are used to push such initiatives through the parliament. For example, the members of the civic initiation committee were banned from the expert meetings. From the 47 delegates that were chosen to participate such an expert meeting, 27 delegates supported the proposal for a new (more liberal) family law. This does not at all reflect the opinion of the society and even many experts seem not to be invited to the expert meeting. Based on this "expert meeting", the parliament will probably accept the law in June. The only way then to stop this controversial law is an official request for a referendum by the civil society

In the mean time, our beloveth Dutch embassy is financing a poster campaign to support the new controversial family law. Irritated Parliament Members asked questions in the Slovenian Parliament:

...We may ask ourselves if the Netherlands would allow on its territory, for example, the Slovenian embassy to finance a campaign for a law to abolish the monarchy in the Netherlands because Slovenians believe this is an obsolete form of government, or a campaign to abolish the possibility for children to be adopted by homosexuals in the Netherlands because most Slovenian citizens oppose this. In accordance with article 21 of the law on political parties, parties must not be financed from abroad, and on the basis of the law governing election and referendum campaigns (connected with the law on political parties), election and referendum campaigns must not be financed from abroad either. The purpose of these prohibitions is above all to prevent foreign influence on legislative decisions in our country. Through this financing, the Dutch Embassy is willfully interfering in the legislative process in Slovenia. The possible passing of the controversial law will certainly be followed by a referendum, so we have here the case of a referendum campaign connected with the family law which is financed by a foreign country. I therefore ask the foreign minister of sovereign and independent Slovenia what he has done about this international incident – the interfering of the Royal Netherlands Embassy in the legislative process in Slovenia by financing a campaign to pass the controversial family law which would deprive children of their basic natural and human right to a mother and a father. I also wonder how in future you will ensure that foreign states do not interfere in the legislative processes in our country as our law forbids this."

"If, however, Slovenia does not in this way interfere in the passing of laws in other countries, then
I expect that you, minister, will demand from the Royal Netherlands Embassy that it apologises to Slovenian citizens and that in future it finances no more such campaigns in Slovenia!" (
translation of the minutes of the parliament, bold by me)
Nelleke Linssen, the deputy of the Dutch ambassador explained for the newspaper Delo that this is a common practice for the Dutch embassies throughout the world: "Our foreign policy gives structural attention to the rights of homosexuals all over the world and embassy have precise instructions on how to cooperate in concrete situations" Bravo Holland!
The civic movement is active in monitoring the democratic processes in order to safeguard the traditional definition of marriage in the Slovenian family code. It was encouraging to see what they were doing and their pro-active and pragmatical approach.

In the late afternoon we went to the beautiful lake of Bled. With the boat we went to the island with a church and we visited the medieval castle on a hill. Auke learned how to bottle wine (according to the "monk" he succeeded better than the Prince Willem Alexander from the Netherlands who visited with princess Maxima this wine cellar in the castle too). I learned how they print a certificate in the Middle Ages in an old printing house museum.

In the evening late we arrived back to the hotel. The next morning early Auke brought me to the airport for the flight to Bucharest. Around five kilometers from the airport the car start having problems again and stopped with signs that the oil is not good and the battery is empty. Fortunately we could start the motor again and I caught the plane, leaving Auke with the broken car while he had to travel to Hungary.

I was impressed about Slovenia with their Austrian pragmatism, Slavic passion and Italian flair; it's postcard surroundings and the nice and friendly people.

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