“Today, we are here to protest against Janković’s violence against peaceful taxpayers, for doctors and for clean drinking water. All this is under threat, and we must fight for it!” said Aleš Primc, leader of the protest, in front of the Ljubljana City Hall. Mayor Zoran Janković also watched the protest from one of the City Hall windows.
A protest against the Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković took place on Monday in front of the Ljubljana City Hall. The protesters were protesting the planned payment of bonuses to the management of the Ljubljana Health Centre. They also opposed the construction of the C0 sewer canal through the Ljubljana water catchment area. The protest was organised by part of the opposition in the Ljubljana City Council and led by Aleš Primc. According to the Voice for Children and Families party (Glas za otroke in družine), this was a rally directed more broadly against Janković’s city policies and his “dictatorial rule.” Primc addressed those gathered at the protest, saying that “Janković does not have a building permit for the construction of the C0 canal and does not have the required environmental permits,” and noted that the National Institute of Public Health “has also given its opinion that the C0 canal would pose a permanent threat to the citizens of Ljubljana.” Tina Bregant, a city councillor from the Slovenian People’s Party (Slovenska ljudska stranka – SLS), also addressed those gathered, saying: “The coalition of the Ljubljana City Council is engaging in absurdities such as rewarding those who are responsible for people being without a doctor.”
“Dear friends, a little music at the beginning of our gathering,” Primc said before the start of the programme. The song “Slovenija, od kod lepote tvoje” (Slovenia, whence thy beauty …) followed. When asked by our TV presenter Janez Hočevar why the protesters were gathered in front of the City Hall, Primc replied, “Today, we are here to protest against Janković’s violence against peaceful taxpayers, for doctors and for clean drinking water. All this is under threat, and we must fight for it!” He added that tens of thousands of Ljubljana residents do not have a doctor, and at Monday’s meeting of the City Council, the Mayor intended to give the Director of the Ljubljana Health Centre the highest possible award for her past performance – despite the fact that this is the person most responsible for the catastrophic healthcare situation in the capital, alongside Janković. He also recalled that the controversial C0 canal is being built through the Ljubljana water catchment area.
Janković wants to destroy Ljubljana’s drinking water, “the most precious water protection area in Ljubljana.” “Today’s crowd is saying: ‘Janković, stop being violent, respect the Constitution, respect democracy, respect human rights. Let’s talk, let’s look for solutions together. This is the way to solve problems, not dictatorship and violence, which is what is happening in Ljubljana.” When asked whether talking to Janković was still a viable option (given that construction work on the C0 canal is already underway), Primc replied that they would like Janković to understand today’s message and start talking to the people. Doing certain things, no matter the cost, and allowing violence against peaceful people to happen, and in the long term, endangering Slovenia’s most precious source of drinking water, is unacceptable and intolerable, Primc added. As many as 90 percent of Ljubljana’s inhabitants get their drinking water from this water source. “The right to clean drinking water is neither left-wing nor right-wing.”
Janković appeared at the window
“We all need clean drinking water, the left and the right. We all need a doctor, and this is a real opportunity for Ljubljana to unite.” Wondering whether Janković would even hear the protesters, Primc replied, “He can hear, don’t worry, he has an office up here.” The protesters intend to continue to gather until Janković is ready to cooperate and talk. They intend to call a protest before each City Council meeting, if necessary. “Until there is cooperation in Ljubljana, there will be a protest before every City Council meeting!” Primc was determined. The next protest will take place on the 20th of March. The song “Samo milijon” (Only a Million) was played next. And as a sign that both the right and the left need water, the song “Hej, brigade!” (Hey, Brigades!) was next up. During the song, Janković himself suddenly appeared like the Pope in one of the windows. And then the protest officially started. Primc addressed those gathered by saying: “Dear friends, welcome to our white Ljubljana!”
“First of all, I think we can just take this flag down! Ljubljana as the green capital?! Janković wants to make Ljubljana a dead capital! He wants to poison our clean drinking water!”. He greeted all those who had gathered, all the friends of the rule of law. The Slovenian anthem was then sung by Zala Klopčič.
Primc: “We are here today because we want to drink clean drinking water, which is one of the best in Europe! We have gathered because we know that patients need a doctor! We have gathered to support the brave, upstanding farmers who are being mistreated and beaten by Janković’s army! We have come together to show that we are not willing to give up our water. We will not allow the construction of a sewerage canal, a so-called shit pipeline, through the best water catchment area in the country!”
What would happen to the C0 canal in the event of an earthquake or terrorist attack?
Primc went on to inform those gathered of some important facts, including that Janković does not have a building permit for the construction of the C0 canal, and that part of the construction is taking place on private land. The Mayor had also not obtained any building permits, nor had he obtained an environmental impact assessment. Instead, he has broken the route into so many parts that no environmental consents are required. “Thank God, however, on the 28th of September 2020, the Slovenian Environment Agency issued a clear decision – environmental consents are required! And interestingly, everything we are saying is true – the canal is dangerous! If it just so happens that it starts leaking because of poor design, because of obsolescence, because of an earthquake, because of a terrorist attack or any other reason, what would happen? Crap would get into our water and poison it! Even the Environment Agency is afraid of that!”, Primc was clear.
The National Institute of Public Health also spoke out in favour of the population of Ljubljana. It issued a completely negative opinion for the construction of the C0 canal. They are convinced that if the canal were to be built, it would pose a permanent threat to the health of the citizens of Ljubljana. The threat is permanent and unacceptable. Primc also thanked the National Institute of Public Health for its professional and correct opinion. Meanwhile, Janković did not reply to the Environment Agency’s assessment. Primc is convinced that this construction cannot be explained in public procedures. He also recalled the recent earthquake in Turkey and warned that the citizens of Ljubljana would be left without drinking water for weeks and months if something like that were to happen here after the canal would have been built. He also highlighted the war in Ukraine as an example. It only takes one bomb to destroy a canal, which would leave almost the whole of Ljubljana without drinking water, and there are no alternative sources. “And when there is no alternative, there must be other solutions!”
“How much longer will the people of Ljubljana continue to watch the parade of the obscene nakedness of democracy in our city?”
“Those of us who drink water are not left or right, we are not Janša’s or Tonin’s! I am sure that there are some among us who voted for Janković!”. Primc is convinced that Janković is not sleeping peacefully. He also invited Bregant, a doctor who knows the Slovenian healthcare system very well, to address those gathered. He recalled Janković’s recent decision at a City Council meeting to ban the opposition from discussing solutions in this area. Primc: “This is a dictatorship! This is not the way things are supposed to work in a democratic country!” Bregant said a few words about Ljubljana’s healthcare system, starting by recalling the story of the Emperor’s new clothes. “How much longer will we continue to watch the parade of the obscene nakedness of democracy in Ljubljana?”
Bregant is convinced that interruptions of City Council sessions should not be allowed and that every voice must be heard. She recalled, among other things, that the right to private property is a sacred right. She asked those at the protest whether they considered violence against private owners and the destruction of the environment acceptable. She also recalled the Indian wisdom that “you cannot eat money.” She also pointed out the increased seismic risk to the area, and that there had been no meetings on the subject at all because it had been ignored by part of the City Council. “Your parents did not give you the land, you borrowed it from your children!”, she also said. She then touched on the catastrophic situation in healthcare in Ljubljana. She added that “we will not be silent anymore!” Primc: “Slovenians have paid dearly for democracy, and we will not let Janković steal it from us!”