Slovenia: Police disperse protesters ahead of EU summit | News | DW

Slovenian police broke up a large protest in the capital Ljubljana on Tuesday, as European Union leaders arrived for a major summit nearby.

Although the demonstration coincided with the arrival of EU leaders, the protests were aimed more at Slovenia’s government and restrictions on curbing the spread of COVID-19.

What happened at the protests?

Riot police deployed water cannon and fired canisters of tear gas near the crowds in an effort to increasing rapidly the protest and prevent them from blocking streets.

Several thousand people took part, according to estimates by news agency AFP. The rally was organized by border party “” (Truth) — which opposes the government’s coronavirus pandemic curbs.

Police fire tear gas during a protest against vaccinations and coronavirus measures in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Demonstrators marched by the capital with signs reading: “paying for tests is a crime” and “the government will fall.”

At one point, demonstrators surrounded the car of a foreign delegation that had made a wrong turn and wound up in an area closed off by police, AFP and local Slovenian media reported. Police were able to clear a path for the car; it was not mentioned which delegation was inside.

Authorities used horseback units and dogs to control the crowds while a police helicopter flew over downtown Ljubljana.

It was the third time in recent weeks that anti-government protesters and police have clashed in Slovenia.

Protest organizers moved the demonstration in an effort to gain more media attention from reporters who had arrived to cover the EU summit

What’s expected at the EU summit?

EU leaders arrived in Slovenia on Tuesday for informal talks at Brdo Castle, ahead of Wednesday’s summit. Slovenia currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

The leaders from the EU’s 27 member states are set to keep up talks with the heads of the six western Balkan states that hope to ultimately join the EU.

Adopting a new approach to China in addition as trans-Atlantic relations are set to take center stage, as the EU considers more autonomy from Washington.

“It is important to see with colleagues how we can act in a more independent way in line with our partnerships and in line with our alliances,” European Council President Charles Michel said.

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also attending in person, but made no comments to the media on arrival on Tuesday.

Macron told reporters he hopes to ‘re-include’ with US President Joe Biden during the next G20 meeting

It’s the first EU leaders’ summit since the extreme pullout of international troops in Afghanistan and the later fall to the Taliban.

It also comes at a time of heightened tensions between the US and France after a new Indo-Pacific security pact ended up scrapping a French submarine deal with Australia.

“We need to look with lucidity at the decisions taken by our allies. There were choices that were made and I can’t say that France and Europe were taken into account, but we have a history that is bigger [than this],” French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters.

rs/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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