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President Pahor delivers speech at historic event: The signature of a document that marks the return of the National Hall to the Slovenian community in Italy

Trieste, 13. 7. 2020 | press release, speech

In the presence of Slovenian President Pahor and Italian President Mattarella, a document was signed at the Prefecture of Trieste to make the National Hall the property of the Slovenian national community in Italy exactly one hundred years after it was attacked and burned down by members of the Italian fascist and nationalist groups. This event is important for both nations. Presidents Pahor and Mattarella have dedicated many years of diligent work with great consideration of the sentiments of both nations to ensure that this event could take place.

On this solemn occasion, Presidents Pahor and Mattarella both delivered a speech.

President Pahor delivers speech at historic event: The signature of a document that marks the return of the National Hall to the Slovenian community in Italy
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

We here publish the speech delivered by Borut Pahor, President of the Republic of Slovenia. Check against delivery!

"Mr President Sergio Mattarella, my friend,
Dear Slovenian compatriots,
Dear Italian friends.

Today my heart is filled with happiness. The National Hall has returned to Slovenian hands 100 years after being burned down. It took us 100 years to reach this point. This is indeed a historic event. An injustice has been corrected; justice has been served.

Today is therefore a day to remember. And it is one that Slovenia and Italy are rightly celebrating together, because this is a common undertaking for both Slovenes and Italians. This is a well-deserved victory for all of those who have truly believed in peaceful coexistence, compassion, respect, reciprocity and a common Europe for all these years.

To some of you, the return of the National hall might seem an obvious step, but it is not. Although it may well be in terms of law and justice. A hundred years have passed and more than twice that number could have passed. This return is the fruit of our perseverant and mutual actions that were silently forming beautiful harmony and mutual trust. In this light, we should proudly remember the actions of our predecessors and be grateful for their courage, great perseverance and vision of a united community, while respecting values such as fraternity and brotherhood. Once someone said “these are forbidden dreams which came true”, and this is what we are witnessing today. As if, after all these years, the stars were aligned. Though they did not become aligned by themselves. Together all of us aligned them.

Trieste. Throughout the world there are just a few places that witnessed so closely the beginning of WWI and the end of WWII. Trieste is the city which knows best why World War I is called “the Great War”: mostly because it had no end, but it just continued into World War II. If one is willing to listen, the city of Trieste narrates stories about the fragility of people caught in a turmoil of political, historic, ethnical and civil changes. But today Trieste tells a different story: one about the power of the person who understands, remembers and forgives. This force is powerful. It is leading us further.

That is the reason why today’s event had to happen although, as I have said, it was not an obvious step. This was a call from within not to sacrifice the time promised by our future for the time that could once again bring the already lived, bitter past.

For hatred there is no need to do anything. It is sufficient to fearfully surrender to prejudice. On the other hand, friendship requires courage and effort in order to nurture diversity and strengthen unity.

Today’s return represents an act of hope, giving optimism and encouraging the noble hearts of these two nations and indeed all others. This return is a powerful gesture holding a strong message not only for Italians and Slovenians, but also for all Europe and all of its nations. It took us 100 years to reach this point.

Today Trieste is, at least for one day and metaphorically speaking, the capital of Europe, because of this celebration of the greatest values uniting the European Union.

Again and again, now more than ever before, I am inspired by the famous words of Antigone “I was born to join in love, not hate.”"