The Slovenia Times

President Urges Calming of Tensions as Rival Protests Announced


Pahor reiterated on the sidelines of an event marking Holocaust Memorial Day his warning that tensions must not spill into the streets and mentioned an incident reported from last week's Assembly for the Republic meeting in Maribor held in support of PM Janez Janša in the wake of a report by the country's Corruption Prevention Commission that he broke the country's integrity law.

The president's comments came after the Assembly for the Republic announced on Saturday it would organise a rally in Kongresni square in Ljubljana on 8 February, a bank holiday that is observed as Culture Day in Slovenia, which has also been set as the location and day of the 3rd "All-Slovenian Uprising" against political elites and their policies.

The assembly's president Lovro Šturm has called the counter-protest well-intended, peaceful and tolerant and meant as a constructive contribution to a tolerant atmosphere of dialogue that will help find solutions for Slovenia.

Šturm said that Slovenia was on the right path to finding a way out of the difficulties brought on by the crisis, with key steps taken by the current government, but that he was now concerned by the political instability.

The committee helping organise the "All-Slovenian Uprising" responded with indignation, saying it had reliable information from within the ruling Democrats (SDS) that PM Janša's party was behind the move and was already actively recruiting its members.

The committee labelled the Assembly-organised protest, announced for 11 AM or four hours before the second rally, an "intentional provocation of a conflict among ordinary citizens who are not the reason for the political and moral crisis". It added that this had been the strategy used by the late Serbian president Slobodan Milošević.

The SDS, whose senior members have featured in the assembly's recent tour to Slovenian cities and towns, rejected claims it was behind the initiative, but added it would be "happy to attend" the protest.

Meanwhile, Šturm rejected claims that the Assembly for the Republic's protest was an attempt to provoke conflict, wondering whether "we have really gone that far that we should be afraid of violence".

He added that he was not sure whether another rally had been called for the same day and added that the assembly's rally would be held in the morning and was registered with authorities.

"The rally, which we are preparing, will have a cultural programme with which we will seek to demonstrate what peaceful demonstration and the freedom of assembly without violence and a free exchange of ideas should look like," Šturm added.


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