STA, 15 October - There is no room for anti-Semitism in the EU and social networks are no place for personal attacks, the European Commission said on Friday in response to a tweet by Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, which sparked an avalanche of criticism from leading representatives of EU member states and institutions.
"We do not comment on comments, but let me make a few points clear. Social media should be a space for constructive and respectful debate, it should not be a place for personal attacks against individuals, as was the case with the tweet you mentioned," EU Commission spokesman Christian Wigand said on Friday when asked to comment.
"The commission's position on anti-Semitism is very clear - it has no place in the EU. As laid out in the recent anti-Semitism strategy, it presents a threat not only to the Jewish communities, but to an open and diverse society," he added.
In a tweet that was later deleted, PM Janša posted an image with the heading "13 of the 226 known Soros puppets in the EU parliament," referring to the MEPs as puppets of Jewish Hungarian billionaire George Soros.
One of the MEPs in the image was Sophie in 't Veld (Renew), who is currently on a fact-finding mission in Slovenia with the European Parliament's committee on civil liberties examining Slovenia's compliance with the rule of law and media freedom covenants.
Since Thursday evening, Janša has been engaged in online confrontations with leading representatives of EU member states and institutions.
President of the European Parliament David Sassoli urgently called on Janša to cease the provocations against members of the EU Parliament.
Dutch PM Mark Rutte described the tweet as tasteless, adding that "the government just conveyed this same sentiment to the Slovenian ambassador in The Hague".
Janša retorted that Rutte should not "waste time with ambassadors and media freedom in Slovenia. Together with Sophie in 't Veld, protect your journalists from being killed on the streets," referring to the killing of Dutch journalist Peter R. de Vries in July.
Meanwhile, President of the European Council Charles Michel wrote, without directly referencing Janša's tweets, that members of the European Parliament should be able to do their work free from any form of pressure and called for mutual respect.