The Slovenia Times

Members of Right Oriented National Assembly Protesting for Government


A sea of white, blue and red Slovenian flags and signs in support of the government and Janša could be seen at Congress Square as the rally organised by the right-leaning Assembly for the Republic was held.

The organisers estimated the number of participants at 12,000, while police put it at 9,000.

The rally running under the title "For Slovenia, For Everyone who Has Gathered Because They Mean Well in Their Hearts" was addressed by representatives of the Forum for the Republic and featured a video address by Janša, who is currently taking part in the EU summit in Brussels.

A large Slovenian flag was unveiled by a section of the crowd, while some of the participants carried signs, including one reading "Janez Janša, Save Our Slovenia". The event also featured Slovenian folk and patriotic songs.

Well-known faces in the crowd included Janša's spouse Urška Bačovnik Janša, who was greeted with loud applause, and visible officials of the ruling Democrats (SDS) and junior coalition New Slovenia (NSi).

Minister of Labour, Family and Social Affairs Andrej Vizjak said it was only right that people who are trying to lead the country out of the crisis get their say. "We are trying to do good and we face many problems and very little understanding from those who do not want to present their alternative."

Responding to a series of anti-establishment protests that have taken place around Slovenia in December and January, the minister said that the protesters lack alternatives. "Protesting alone is not enough, an alternative must be presented. But there is none that I can see."

He said the Forum for the Republic rally was aimed at "raising awareness that it is essential that we work for the good of Slovenia...that we offer solutions and not only complain about the situation and the tough times we live in".

The head of the outfit organising the event, former Justice Minister Lovro Šturm, called for equality before the law and a law-governed state and spoke out against attempts to "recall elected officials with a lynch" in his address.

The Forum for the Republic shares many of the standpoints expressed at anti-establishment rallies, including the need for equality before the law, Šturm told the crowd. He stressed that it was essential for Slovenia's existence that "it guarantees all its citizens and regions equal opportunities, equal development and fairness for all".

Calling for a free exchange of opinions and tolerant and peaceful rallies, Šturm said that free and open dialogue was both appropriate and needed. Slovenians need to speak about their future development, he said, while denouncing attempts to deviate from cultured dialogue.

Former Prosecutor General Barbara Brezigar meanwhile spoke out against what she sees as growing exclusions, mud-slinging and intolerance and called for Slovenia to finally bury its communist past.

"All means have become permitted again, which is why it is high time that we stand up against the ideological remains stemming from the decades of the previous century. These remains keep being thrown on our path."

She stressed that today's rally was not a representation of the other half of society but that of a majority which wants a responsible and equitable state. "Our work does not divide people, it unites them."

Defence Minister Aleš Hojs spoke out against ideological divisions in the country, saying it was "time to calm the situation". He called for efforts to create a situation "where success will come independent of ideological conviction...and something else that has become very popular in Slovenia today - tribal association".

Former Parliamentary Speaker France Cukjati said that Slovenia had many qualified professionals, including politicians, judges, bankers, teachers and doctors, and that all it had to do was to seek them out and support them. "This is why we stand against attempts of a blanket street lynch."

"We demand of the politicians who we elected in democratic elections that they persevere in implementing their platforms and fulfilling their promises for which they received our votes," Cukjati said.

In a critique of the highly-publicised graft report that found Janša in violation of the country's integrity legislation, Cukjati said that "it should never happen again that a state institution becomes a tool for shadowy forces and that it grossly violates the basic human right to defence".

"If somebody abuses the state's anti-graft institution for discrediting and liquidating a politician who represents a barrier to further robbery of the state by the very network in question, it is time that we speak out loudly against this liquidation."

The rally ended with actor Bine Matoh reading out the declaration of the Assembly for the Republic for Culture Day, in which the outfit's supporters call for a state of all citizens and transparency in the economy and the banking sector.

Running from 11 AM until around 12:30 PM, the rally is to be followed later in the afternoon by the third in a series of anti-establishment rallies dubbed the "All-Slovenian Uprising".

With fears expressed about possible provocation between the two groups, authorities have said they will provide extensive security for the events. A heavy police presence has been felt in the city centre since the morning.

The Assembly for the Republic event passed peacefully, with police not reporting of any incidents, while most of the participants had left Congress Square soon after the event.


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