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Speech by the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr Borut Pahor, at the ceremony in memory of the Huda Jama victims

Maribor, 27. 10. 2016 | speech

Speech by the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr Borut Pahor, at the ceremony in memory of the Huda Jama victims

Looking into the future

Dobrava Memorial Park near Maribor, 27 October 2016

"Dear Relatives of the Victims,
Dear Mourners,

I am looking into the future. I see a brother embracing his Slovenian brother. They look after each other. Each thinking with his own head, they sometimes argue, also about the past. Albeit different, they respect each other. They cooperate. They create harmony. Working together, they can achieve anything.

A long time ago they forgave the Germans, Italians, and Hungarians for what happened during the Second World War and now they have finally forgiven each other. Regardless of what they will have to endure in the future, they will never again raise a hand against each other. Not for anything in the world. Never again.

Dear Mourners,

I am looking into the future without overlooking the past. Over a period of only fifty years Slovenians were tested by two historic developments: national division and national unity.

During the Second World War, in the middle of the previous century, when Slovenians were being killed by foreigners, Slovenians also killed each other. The national liberation war against the occupier was a time of communist against anti-communist civil strife as well. The fighting did not end with the war. In the aftermath of the war, the defeated continued to be the victims of killings.

Slovenians also experienced national unity, which was a precondition for the creation of our own state. If we had not stood united at the time, the War of Independence might have ended differently. But it did not. We learned a lesson from this tragic historic experience. Trust and cooperation prevailed. We fought together and we won together.

We still find it difficult to unravel all the mysteries surrounding human beings, who since time immemorial have been capable of performing the noblest of deeds and the most horrific atrocities. We recognise the historical political and moral mistakes that must not ever be made again, irrespective of our different political, religious, or other beliefs.

All this gives us the strength and courage to stand here today. We share the understanding that it is our duty as humans and statesmen to bury the victims of war and post-war killings in a civilised manner. Finally the victims will at least be laid to rest as they were not allowed to live.

Dear Mourners,

Let us not change history, but rather let us change the future. This would be a step forward. A step taken in memory of the victims, while having in mind a peaceful and happy future for all our children.

Our steps on the path towards the future are measured and often taken with understandable doubt, yet with courage and determination. I would like to believe that the Slovenian nation increasingly feels and understands that reconciliation is not a one-off event but a state of mind. For our benefit and for the sake of our children, we were given the responsibility to ensure an atmosphere of tolerance, mutual respect, and cooperation.

Forgiveness and reconciliation are foremost deeply intimate issues. Something that concerns us as individuals. No one should feel that his or her most personal feelings have been hurt. Including those regarding our past. No one has the right to judge others in this respect. The state should not intrude on these feelings. The state, however, must do everything it is bound to do by law and above all by the ancient values of civilisation. This is the very thing that makes our nation, our society and our state more humane, human, and mature.

It is common knowledge that immediately before death, be it natural or violent, people think of love and not hate. What I am referring to is that when our time is running out we do not waste our energy on hatred, instead we focus on expressions of love. Life is too short to spend on hatred. This is probably the reason why – for more than two thousand years of human civilisation and culture – the words of Antigone have continued to shine brightly: “It is not my nature to join in hate, but in love.”

President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor at the ceremony in memory of the Huda Jama victims
Photo: STA