By: Sara Kovač / Nova24tv
The left-wing extremists surrounded the building ahead of the public tribune at the Workers’ Home (Delavski dom) in Trbovlje, trying to break into it, but luckily, the police prevented the worst from happening. The extremists also threw granite cubes at the building.
During their visit to the Zasavje region, the government representatives and their interlocutors reviewed the experiences, successes, needs and plans of the region, the biggest challenge of which is restructuring, according to Minister Zdravko Počivalšek.
Who would not want to see economic recovery and an improvement in living conditions in a region affected by the closure of once important industries and a lack of other infrastructure? Apparently, mercenaries were at work again, the kind we also see on Wednesdays and Fridays in the centre of Ljubljana; however, this time, they decided to come to Trbovlje, where they were mixed in with the local socialists and anti-vaxxers. Among the more prominent protesters was also the former MP of the LDS party, Aleš Gulič.
Who does not want the Zasavje region to develop?
As we learned first-hand, the protesters surrounded the Workers’ Home in Trbovlje, where the final public tribune was held, which was attended by mayors, businessmen and other development players in the region. Hundreds of people gathered at the protest and loudly shouted, demanding the government of Janez Janša to resign. They even tried to get into the hall into which the ministers were going, but the police prevented them from doing just that. The protesters also brought banners, with which, among other things, they told Janša that he is not welcome in their region, and also spoke out against privatisation. They also shouted at the authorities, calling the government representatives thieves and the mafia. Nonetheless, the public tribune, which was also broadcast online, began. In her introductory remarks, the mayor of Trbovlje, Jasna Gabrič, emphasised the need to publish tenders for European funds for the just transition of coal regions, as both municipalities and the local businessmen have already prepared projects, and the region has already closed the coal mine. Gabrič also pointed out the infrastructural problems and the need to continue with projects in the field of opening the region, which, of course, also includes transport.
Prime Minister Janša told Gabrič that the tenders are definitely coming and also reminded her that in the upcoming years, Slovenia will finally have “enough funds available” for investments from the European budget – more than we have ever had before. However, certain risks are still present, the main one being the covid-19 pandemic, Janša pointed out. And regarding the situation in the region, he pointed out two things which he believes show the main reason for all the other problems as well. The first is that there are almost 10 thousand more work-active people in the region than there are jobs, which means that these people have to drive to work elsewhere. And the second reason is the infrastructure. The majority of the problems related to infrastructure, Janša pointed out, are the same as they were 15 years ago, when they last visited the region. He also pointed out the problem of long-term care for the elderly in the region.
However, regarding the government’s visit to some successful companies in the region, Janša said that what they found is a situation that is completely different from the one they saw 15 years ago: the results were significantly better, there was more optimism, and new programmes.
Zasavje must be economically restructured
During his visit to the region, Minister of the Economy, Zdravko Počivalšek, highlighted the restructuring of the region after heavy industry and coal mining as the biggest challenge for Zasavje. Therefore, it will be very important to direct funds from the Just Transition Fund to this region, the minister said. Slovenia has 235 million euros available from the European Fund for Just Transition, he said, which can be used by the Zasavska region and Šaleška dolina region. Minister Počivalšek assessed that the economic situation in the Zasavje region may not be ideal and that the region is lagging behind in many aspects, but that in recent years, there has been a positive growth trend in new, innovative and technologically advanced companies.
Zasavje is the leading region in terms of the vaccination rate
During the government’s visit to Zasavje, the representatives also spoke a lot about healthcare. Namely, Zasavje is the best among all Slovenian regions in terms of vaccination rates against covid-19. Therefore, the Prime Minister praised the region for its efforts to vaccinate the population. Minister of Health Janez Poklukar once again called on people in the region to get vaccinated, and also promised the Trbovlje hospital help for its staffing problems.
The other ministers also spoke about plans for the region – namely, Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning Andrej Vizjak and mayor of the Hrastnik municipality Marko Funkl talked about the issue of watercourses and landslides, and also about the national spatial plan for the Hrastnik-Zidani Most road. Vizjak also announced that in 2022, a recapitalisation of the national housing fund is expected, in the amount of one million euros and added that the funds will be allocated to the company Spekter for the construction of apartments for the elderly.
Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek also visited the region and said that he sees lots of potential in Zasavje.
Minister of the Interior Aleš Hojs learned about the work of the police and the state of security in the region, and Minister of European Cohesion Policy Zvone Černač visited a primary school, part of which was built with funds from the European budget.
Due to the Minister of Culture Vasko Simoniti visiting the region, his ministry highlighted certain projects and programmes that the ministry (co)finances in Zasavje.
In total, the ministers and state secretaries held more than 70 meetings on Monday and Tuesday in all four municipalities of the Zasavje region. The representatives of the region were, of course, very satisfied with their visit.