On May 12, Tuesday, activists of Slovenian left group Levica, along with various environmental groups, protested in front of the Slovenian national assembly against amendments proposed to the country’s Nature Conservation Act. Members of the Balkan River Defense also took part in the protest. The amendments proposed by the Slovenian National Party (SNS), which supports the government, seek to tighten eligibility conditions for groups seeking the status of a nature conservation organization in public interest. These amendments were approved by the Parliamentary Environment Committee on Tuesday.
Activists denounced the move as a dangerous ploy by the government to disqualify a number of groups from being eligible for the status of a nature conservation organization. It is widely believed that through the amendment, the government wants to open up the country’s natural resources for sale.
According to a report by Total Slovenia News, nature protection associations would now require at least 50 active members to be receive the status. Institutes would need at least three full-time employees with university degrees, and must possess assets exceeding EUR 10,000 (10,861 USD) to gain this status.
Earlier, on April 2, the coalition government in Slovenia, led by Janez Janša from the right-wing Slovenian Democratic Party (SDP), excluded NGOs and environmental defense groups having a say in construction processes in the country through a new anti-corona law.
Levica said that “Under the pretext of anti-COVID-19 measures, the government of Janez Janša has already pushed environmental organizations out of the procedures for obtaining building permits. Now the Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning, Andrej Vizjak from the SDS, through Zmago Jelinčič [head of the SNS], who willingly performs dirty work for the government, is expanding the regulation into the Nature Conservation Act, and thus to all procedures related to environmental protection. If the amendment is adopted, more than 90% of current holders will lose their public interest status in the field of nature conservation.”
The Balkan River Defense stated, “There is no doubt: this is a war against the preservation of nature in Slovenia.”
Levica and the Socialist Party of Slovenia also supported to the anti-government bicycle and motorbike rallies in state capital Ljubljana on May 8 to protest the abuse of emergency powers by the government.