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Office of the President of the Republic Slovenia's response to Italy's Memorial Day of the Exiles and Foibe

Ljubljana, 10. 2. 2020 | press release

Respecting the commonly established historical truth for a shared future, presidents Pahor and Mattarella to commemorate 100 years since the burning down of the Narodni dom (National Hall), which will be returned to the Slovenian community on the same occasion, on 13 July in Trieste.

The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, and the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, will come together to commemorate 100 years since the burning down of the Narodni dom. President Pahor estimates that this memorial, which will take place on 13 July 2020 in Trieste, is the best occasion on both a symbolic and concrete level to remember the past and look to a shared future.

In a letter to President Mattarella after the memorial in Bazovica (Basovizza) last year, President Pahor expressed his concern over unacceptable remarks made by senior officials of the Italian Republic at the commemoration in the memory of the victims of foibe who wanted to create the impression that foibe were actually a case of ethnic cleansing.

He wrote that this was not the first time that historical assessments and political views were made by high levels of the Italian state that provoked indignation and concern among Slovenians, and that, at the same time, the European context of coexistence and unity, in which such estimations and views are especially concerning, was taking the turn for the worse. He called on President Mattarella to accept his reflection with utmost attention and added that, in these circumstances, special efforts should be taken to restrain from any remarks or actions that do not contribute to deepening mutual respect and consideration.

President Pahor also recalled the final report on Slovenian-Italian relations in 1880–1956 prepared by the mixed Slovenian-Italian historical and cultural commission. In Italy, the findings of this joint Slovenian-Italian historical commission are still ignored and disregarded. Therefore, President Pahor asked the Italian president to do everything in his power to change the attitude towards this report and to respect its findings.

In his response to President Pahor, President Mattarella agreed that some inappropriate remarks that could have been interpreted as territorial claims were made at the Italian memorial day of the exiles and foibe in Bazovica. This, according to the Italian president, contradicts history.

In his response, the Italian president also shared the concern of the Slovenian president about the escalation in discourse, raising levels of disregard for differing opinions and verbal outbursts in Europe for which there should be no place in the common European home. He emphasised that the memorial day in Italy was mainly established to commemorate a great tragedy, which affected individuals, families, and communities from the end of World War II until the Cold War. It was never meant to be an occasion "against" something, but an occasion to, among other things, emphasise the rejection of all totalitarian ideologies, the common need for strict observance of the rights of individuals, and the joint rejection of nationalistic extremisms together with its neighbouring countries of Slovenia and Croatia.