STA, 11 June 2019 - After winning an important legal battle against the users of Ljubljana's Rog squat, the city has set up a construction site outside the former bicycle factory's southern wall. Speaking of the mayor's "might is right approach", the users of the centre insist on participating in plans for Rog's renovation and "will defend Rog just like in 2016".
The users of Rog, which developed into an alternative arts and social centre in 2006 after it had been left to decay for 15 years, told the press on Tuesday that the move spoke volumes about the sincerity of the city's offer for dialogue.
They said the construction fencing was put up in the presence of city officials by builder Euro Grad on Monday, the very day they had drawn up a response to Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković regarding the format of the talks on the future of the huge complex located just off the city centre.
While the city has already put a EUR 27 million price tag on the commercial makeover of Rog, the users want to discuss the centre's future in the format of an open public panel, which they plan to organise on 18 June.
The city, which bought Rog's 7,000 m2 premisses in 2002, recently won ownership lawsuits against eight of Rog's users who had managed to enforce their possession right.
While the eight users ended up with procedural costs totalling EUR 40,000 and had to leave, the city authorities - by some accounts unable to make a decisive move as long as dozens of unidentified users continue to hold on to Rog - has been insisting that it be clear who they are talking to.
The users told the press that they were not bent on staying in dilapidated buildings, but they are also convinced the planned Centre Rog project only shows that "the city is unable to face real problems and that it is leaving Ljubljana's inhabitants with no alternative to watching the capital turn into an amusement park for tourists and wealthy investors".
"We successfully defended Rog in 2016 and we will also do it in 2019," they told the press, referring to a previous attempt by the city to start with the demolition of most of Rog's buildings.
The Ljubljana Municipality responded by saying its representatives would not attend the public panel announced by Rog's users. The time for such discussions has expired and the city held a number of public debates with various stakeholders in the past, the press release says.
"By destroying the construction site, set up outside the factory wall, the temporary users of Rog showed their true face," the city authorities wrote, speaking of hypocrisy on the side of Rog's users and announcing the public would be informed about the continuation of the works in due time.
As for the dialogue efforts, the city said that 10 June had been the deadline for a response from Rog. The response was provided with the names of three users who would attend the talks, but there was not concrete content, which had been a basic condition for dialogue, the press release says.