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President Pahor attends the opening ceremony of the Mittelfest festival in Cividale del Friuli: "From the heritage of the past, we choose what we want for the future"

Cividale del Friuli, Italy, 28. 8. 2021 | press release

This afternoon, the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, attended the opening ceremony of the 30th Mittelfest festival in Cividale del Friuli, where he was also the keynote speaker.

At the ceremony, the Slovenian President received the highest award of the Mittelfest festival as a symbol of friendship and gratitude for supporting the festival and its commitment to European values.

President Pahor attends the opening ceremony of the Mittelfest festival in Cividale del Friuli: "From the heritage of the past, we choose what we want for the future"
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

The 30th edition of Mittelfest, a multidisciplinary theatre, music and dance festival, will take place between 27 August and 5 September in Cividale del Friuli, Italy, and will stage 31 artistic projects by established artists from 13 countries.

The main topic of this year's festival is "Heirs" as a bridge between the past and the future. On the occasion of the opening ceremony, the Slovenian President delivered an address entitled "From the heritage of the past, we choose what we want for the future".

The Mittelfest festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary during COVID-19. This is why the organisers dedicated this year's festival to the awareness that culture connects and gives new strength, passion and long-term perspective. The anniversary edition of the festival has been enriched by devoting special attention to young artists from Central Europe. The opening play "Europeana. A short history of the 20th century" was produced in cooperation with the Ljubljana Festival.

President Pahor attends the opening ceremony of the Mittelfest festival in Cividale del Friuli: "From the heritage of the past, we choose what we want for the future"
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Below is the text of the keynote address by President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor (Check against delivery!).

FROM THE HERITAGE OF THE PAST, WE CHOOSE WHAT WE WANT FOR THE FUTURE

Dear president and artistic director of Mittelfest,
dear mayor, Mrs Bernardi,
dear president of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, Mr Fedriga,
dear artists,
ladies and gentlemen,

I feel very privileged to have been invited as the speaker of honour.

I am taking this special opportunity to sincerely congratulate all the creators of the Mittelfest Festival on its high anniversary. Over thirty years, it has created a rich cultural heritage that promises the festival a glorious future.

And it is the question of heritage that this year’s edition focuses on. In this respect, I would like to say the following.

The word ‘heirs’ encompasses all our past, the good and the bad, victories and defeats, moral burdens and noble achievements. Little of this, or indeed nothing, is a matter of historical coincidence or a fate independent of us. Heritage is the fruit of our choices, our decisions. The only true fate of man and mankind is to choose, to decide.

In this context, I would like to remind you of a short story about two wolves that you may already know.

Once upon a time, long ago, an old Indian was telling his grandson:
“Inside every one of us, a fight is going between two wolves.
One is always evil – he is anger, envy, fury, lies, selfishness and violence;
the other is good – he is peace, love, generosity, truth, compassion, valour, serenity and faith.”
The grandson thought about it and then asked his grandfather:
“Which wolf will win?”
The old Indian replied:
“Always the one you feed!”

Ladies and gentlemen,
dear friends,

When a year ago, my friend President Mattarella and I held hands in front of the two monuments in Basovizza near Trieste, we stood on the shoulders of those who have striven for over a century for coexistence and friendship between Slovenians, Italians and all nations in this part of Europe, Central Europe. We wanted to be the heirs of their achievements, their values and aspirations.

We could have chosen another, bitter and infamous legacy of relations between the two nations and indulged in a legacy of resentment, doubt and mistrust.

We chose, however, the heritage that in our firm belief connects our history with the future we want for our children and grandchildren in the noblest, most precious way. It is the heritage of those values that we label as European and on whose foundations we build peace and prosperity for the present and future generations.

We chose to feed the good wolf, to stand on the shoulders of good people. On behalf of us both, I would like to tell you how much satisfaction and happiness this brings us.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Last year marked 100 years since the Carinthian plebiscite. The Austrian and Slovenian nations separately commemorated this historic moment for 99 years, not infrequently with words and actions that are not an example of the European spirit.

Then Austrian President and friend Alexander Van der Bellen and I decided that Slovenians and Austrians would commemorate the 100th anniversary together. It happened in Klagenfurt last October, in an atmosphere of coexistence, good neighborliness, sincere friendship and in a wonderful European spirit.

In his speech, President Van der Bellen roused general astonishment and great enthusiasm when he used the Slovenian language to express his regret for the delays in exercising the rights of the Slovenian minority in Carinthia, promising that they would be expedited as soon as possible. This was a magnificent moment.

President and friend Van der Bellen was not obliged to speak in the Slovenian language. But this was his choice, his decision. The two countries were not obliged to commemorate the anniversary together; after all, a certain risk was involved. But this was our choice, our decision.

We stood on the shoulders of those people of Slovenian and Austrian origin who have striven for 100 and more years for coexistence, mutual respect and consideration, and last but not least for multiculturalism in the European spirit.

We chose to feed the good wolf, to stand on the shoulders of good people. Whenever we remember this moment during our meetings, the President of Austria and I are overwhelmed by strong feelings of optimism for a common European future.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Man and mankind make choices each moment, each day, and thus make history. From a personal and collective point of view, it is extremely important which values inspire the choices and decisions of the individual and the community. On the wasteland left by World War II and three totalitarian regimes, Europeans have built our common European home. Especially those of us who choose or decide on behalf of the community also have a human, moral and political duty to carefully feed the good wolf at all times for the sake of the heritage we leave to our children and grandchildren.

I believe that this is also the mission of Mittelfest, so in congratulating it I also express my sincere gratitude for the heritage that inspires an inclusive future. Let us make it our choice, or decision.

Thank you for your attention.

President Pahor attends the opening ceremony of the Mittelfest festival in Cividale del Friuli: "From the heritage of the past, we choose what we want for the future"
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA