Pahor meets protest leader after calls for resignation of government

Ljubljana – President Borut Pahor held talks on Monday with Zoran Stevanović, the initiator of recent protests against the Covid pass mandate who demands that the government step down. Stevanović wanted Pahor to endorse the calls but Pahor turned down the request.

“The president explained that he is working with all governments elected by the National Assembly and so he does not accept Mr Stevanović’s initiative to urge the government to step down,” Pahor’s office said.

He told Stevanović vaccination was the only way to end the health crisis, with the currently low vaccination rate warranting government action.

Pahor also called on Stevanović to urge protesters to refrain from violent action, noting that those who invite people to protests were responsible for that.

Stevanović is a local politician and former police officer with a large Facebook following who has spearheaded several protests, and recently urged the government to step down.

Speaking to the press after the meeting, Stevanović said the outcome of the talks was expected and announced that protests will continue.

There have been indications that protesters might try to target tomorrow’s dinner by EU leaders, but Stevanović was coy today, saying only that the exact location of tomorrow’s rally would be announced in the evening.

Stevanović also made a point of stating that the meeting was maskless, which was also confirmed by a photo circulated by Pahor’s office. “I would never wear a mask,” he said.

Facing criticism on social media that he is giving Stevanović legitimacy by receiving him, Pahor meanwhile stressed that he has previously received anti-government protesters and members of several civil initiatives that oppose Covid restrictions.

The president is “convinced that there is insufficient dialogue and cooperation regarding the resolution of the health crisis and that we would tackle it more successfully if there is more dialogue and cooperation at all levels,” his office said.