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Photograph: HINA/STA/Anže MALOVRH/ ik

Several thousand sympathisers of Slovenian right-wing opposition parties rallied outside the Parliament building in Ljubljana on Saturday in protest at the government's policy towards refugees and migrants, the economic situation in the country and the treatment of young people.

Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Janez Jansa said that the European Union's open-door policy towards refugees from the Middle East was wrong and that it showed "false solidarity" because of which Europe would become unstable.

If the present policy, which is also backed by the government of Prime Minister Miro Cerar, continues, in two years' time Europe will resemble countries from which the refugees are coming, Jansa said.

Jansa said that the biggest problem faced by Slovenia was the emigration of a large number of young people who saw no future in their own country. "Every year a generation of young people emigrates from Slovenia, which is systematically destroying the country, while at the same time the migrant crisis is being used to strengthen the election base of the left," he underscored.

At the rally, held under the motto "Let's defend Slovenia", a declaration was read stressing the need for solidarity not just with migrants but also with citizens who disagree with the government's policy.

Prime Minister Cerar criticised the rally, accusing the opposition leaders of inciting xenophobia. "They are stirring fear, intolerance and negativism," he said during a visit to a retirement home in Jesenice. "We want to show that positive things can be done too, while encouraging intergenerational solidarity and cooperation. We must not encourage unwarranted intolerance."

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