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Presidents Pahor and Mattarella stress the values of peace and respect in relations between two neighbouring nations and countries

Ljubljana, 22. 4. 2015 | press release, statement

The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr Borut Pahor, today hosts the President of the Italian Republic, Mr Sergio Mattarella, who is on his first official visit to Slovenia. The official reception with military honours was held in Congress Square where the Italian guest was greeted by a large crowd. The pupils of the Italian Dante Alighieri primary school from Izola prepared a special welcome for him. A tête-à-tête between the Presidents was followed by constructive plenary talks between the Slovenian and Italian delegations, headed by their respective Presidents, and a press statement in the Crystal Hall of the Presidential Palace.

President Pahor and his Italian counterpart discussed bilateral relations, including economic cooperation, and issues concerning the European Union. In the words of the Slovenian President, the results of economic cooperation have been encouraging. For a number of years, Italy has been Slovenia’s second largest trade partner, and its third biggest investor. Moreover, Italian tourists take first place in terms of overnight stays in Slovenia. Trade between Slovenia and Italy exceeds 6 billion euros.

President Borut Pahor hosts the first official visit by Italian President Sergio Mattarella to Slovenia
Photo: STA

The two Presidents also talked about national minorities in Slovenia and Italy. President Pahor remarked that progress in their status and rights could be observed but some problems remained. He asked the Italian President to meet with a delegation of the Slovenian minority to hear about their views on certain dilemmas over the adoption of new electoral legislation – the Slovenian minority advocates facilitated representation – and on the implementation of local community reform where they are concerned about smaller bilingual municipalities having less influence in decision-making. Mr Pahor went on to say that, considering certain concerns of the Italian minority in Slovenia, he decided to convene a special working conference on this topic before this summer.

The Slovenian President and his guest agreed that the respective national communities “enrich the multicultural dimension of the countries”. Furthermore, President Pahor highlighted the irreplaceable role of both Presidents in the creation of a general atmosphere of friendship and coexistence between the two nations.

He also asked the Italian President to make a personal effort to release to the public the report of the Slovenian-Italian commission on history and culture, which examined the period from 1880 to 1956, as this report may prove useful in preventing comments or deeds contrary to the established historical truth.

The two Presidents discussed the situation in the Western Balkans, where the region’s stability and progress are in the common interest of both Italy and Slovenia, and expressed support for further enlargement of the European Union. President Mattarella was pleased to accept President Pahor’s proposal to attend the Brdo Process meeting of the leaders next year.

They also exchanged views on current security and other global issues as well as the developments in the South Mediterranean region, and in particular in Libya. Special attention in the talks was devoted to migration issues in the context of this week’s great human tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea. President Pahor highlighted a special bond between Slovenia and Italy, neighbouring countries and both members of the European Union and NATO.

Slovenia is fully aware of the great responsibility assumed by Italy for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from the Middle East and North Africa, said Mr Pahor. Furthermore, Slovenia believes that this is a common European problem and that the burden of this crisis, which has no end in sight, should be distributed in proportion to the power and size of a Member State. As soon as possible, Slovenia will again make its Triglav patrol boat available for rescue operations.

The Slovenian President and his Italian counterpart exchanged views on current foreign policy issues, establishing that they share many positions, especially on a peaceful resolution to conflicts and more tolerance in general across the world. They highlighted the significance of the Walk of Peace that opened this year and connects the Alps with the Adriatic. It conveys the message of peace and mutual respect.

With EXPO Milano 2015 about to open its door, President Pahor presented his guest with a book about buckwheat by Dr Ivan Kreft, Dr Blanka Vombergar, Marija Horvat and Stanka Voriha, since buckwheat is an important element of Slovenia’s presentation at the world exhibition from 1 May to 31 October. Slovenia will have its own pavilion in Milan presented under the slogan "I feel SLOVEnia, Green.Active.Healthy.”

In the afternoon the two Presidents visited the Emona exhibition at the Ljubljana City Museum where its Director, Blaž Peršin, provided expert information about the exhibits from the Roman city. Afterwards, beautiful weather allowed for a walk through the old city centre of Ljubljana.

The official visit by the Italian President will close with a gala dinner in his honour hosted by President Pahor at Brdo Castle.

President Borut Pahor hosts the first official visit by Italian President Sergio Mattarella to Slovenia