On the eve of the EU summit in Slovenia, police and demonstrators clashed in the capital Ljubljana. Hundreds of people protested against strict corona rules in their country.

The Slovenian police repeatedly used tear gas and water cannons against hundreds of demonstrators in the capital Ljubljana. Your protest on the eve of the EU summit was not directly related to the meeting, but was directed against the government’s corona measures. The demonstrators carried banners with the words “Stop Corona Fascism” and demanded equal rights for vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

A police helicopter circled over the center of the city. Police sirens wailed everywhere. In addition, the emergency services stopped around 30 buses that were about to bring demonstrators from other Slovenian cities to Ljubljana. The leaders of the protests apparently took the opportunity to get media attention from foreign journalists. As reported by the Slovenian media, demonstrators surrounded the car of a foreign delegation in a place blocked by the police.

Leader arrested

The rapper Zoran Stefanovic, who is considered to be the leader of the protests, was therefore taken away by the police. He had previously called for the suspension of all measures to combat the coronavirus, the resignation of the government, early elections and “a new electoral system that does not allow the rotation of the old political zombies”.

The rapper Zoran Stefanovic is considered to be the leader of the protests.

Image: AFP

In Slovenia, the authorities have issued strict requirements for the use of corona passports, including for work in state-owned companies. Employees must provide evidence that they are either fully vaccinated or have undergone an expensive PCR test. In Slovenia, almost 48 percent of citizens are fully vaccinated, which is significantly less than in many other EU countries. With a 14-day incidence of 627 new infections with the corona virus, Slovenia is a high-risk area for corona in Germany.

Attacks against journalists

The public service Slovenian news agency STA reported that journalists were insulted, threatened and pushed away during the protests. According to the STA, demonstrators smashed a glass door at the entrance of the transmitter building at the TV station N1. A broadcast had to be interrupted as tear gas entered the studios. Slovenia’s Association of Journalists called on the police to ensure the reporters’ safety.

EU leaders advise on Europe’s role in the world

The next EU summit begins on Wednesday in nearby Brdo pri Kranju. Because of the protests announced before the meeting, the Slovenian government had ordered the police to block parts of Ljubljana, Brdo pri Kranju and the town of Bled.

At the summit itself, the heads of state and government of the European Union want to discuss a stronger role for Europe in the world and the relationship with the USA. At the beginning of the meeting, EU Council President Charles Michel said the question was “how the European Union can exercise enough influence at international level to defend our values ​​and interests”. According to Michels, the agenda will initially include “Afghanistan, the relationship with China and the situation in the Indo-Pacific”. Chancellor Angela Merkel also takes part in the meeting. At first she did not comment on her arrival.

Later on, the consultations will be continued in an expanded format with the Western Balkan countries. For this purpose, the heads of state and government of Albania, North Macedonia and four other Balkan countries are expected. Albania and North Macedonia hope that the accession negotiations with the EU will start.