President Pahor begins visit to Jerusalem by meeting Israeli President Rivlin

Ljubljana, 22. 1. 2020 | press release

At the invitation of President Reuven Rivlin of Israel, President Borut Pahor is in Jerusalem today and tomorrow, where he will take part in the World Holocaust Forum. This year’s forum has been organised to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and ceremonies will be held in the Yad Vashem memorial park in Jerusalem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre. A large number of world leaders are taking part in the forum.

Immediately after arriving in Jerusalem, President Pahor was received in a bilateral meeting by his host, President Rivlin. In a long conversation the two presidents reviewed their bilateral cooperation, and confirmed that 30 years ago relations between the two countries were built on firm foundations and deep friendship, which has faded over time, and that their wish is to strengthen it once again. President Pahor expressed his satisfaction with the dialogue, and emphasised that Slovenia is interested in strengthening bilateral political and economic relations, including at the highest level, and invited President Rivlin to visit Slovenia, which his host was happy to accept. Israel is Slovenia’s main trading partner in the Middle East, and the main opportunities for strengthening economic relations lie in tourism, IT, transport and logistics, the environment, the food industry and agriculture.

President Pahor begins visit to Jerusalem by meeting Israeli President Rivlin
Photo: UPRS

President Pahor informed his host that it is an honour to take part in the World Holocaust Forum, and in the ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. He said that he hopes that his host understands Slovenia’s participation in the event as a political message, with the desire to strengthen friendship, and as an important political message testifying to the commitment to preserving the memory of the Holocaust, and of the horrors that human beings are capable of inflicting on one another. He said that only when we are aware of it can we hope to avoid it ever happening again, and told President Rivlin that a hundred events have been organised in Slovenia in remembrance of these historical events. President Pahor mentioned that he is himself the honorary patron of a number of these commemorative events, including Remembering the Shoah, and that he would bring a delegation of survivors to the commemoration in Auschwitz, as he had five years ago.

The two presidents agreed that awareness of the Holocaust is of key importance if we aim to prevent a repetition of similar tragic events.

They discussed the political situation in the Middle East, President Pahor adding that a peaceful solution to the dispute between Israel and Palestine is the key to reviving the Middle East peace process.

In Jerusalem today President Pahor met Miriam Steiner Aviezer, a Holocaust survivor who works at the Yad Vashem museum. In 2017 he awarded her the Medal for Merits, for preserving the memory of Slovenia’s righteous among the nations who saved Jews from the Holocaust, sometimes at the cost of their own lives.

President Pahor begins visit to Jerusalem by meeting Israeli President Rivlin
Photo: STA

President Pahor will close the first day of his Jerusalem visit by attending a gala dinner hosted for heads of state and other dignitaries by President Rivlin.

Tomorrow President Pahor will attend the fifth World Holocaust Forum, which will be held at Warsaw Ghetto Square in Yad Vashem. President Rivlin, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, Emmanuel Macron, president of France, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, president of Germany, British representative Prince Charles, Mike Pence, vice-president of the USA, and two Holocaust survivors are all scheduled to speak at the ceremonies. This will be followed by a ceremony in which the dignitaries are invited to lay wreaths, among them President Pahor.

In the background to tomorrow’s forum, President Pahor is also scheduled to meet Alexander Van der Bellen, president of Austria, Sergio Mattarella, president of Italy, and János Áder, president of Hungary. Attending the forum will also grant an opportunity for bilateral meetings with other leaders taking part in the forum.