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Presidents Pahor and Napolitano: Peace Bench for Friendship

Nova Gorica, 7. 7. 2014 | press release

The President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano is today visiting the Republic of Slovenia on invitation by the President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor.

The President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor and Ms Tanja Pečar greeted President Napolitano and his wife Clio Napolitano at the Europe Square in Nova Gorica. By visiting the square, which is a symbol of European integration, President Pahor, Ms Pečar, President Napolitano and his wife celebrated the 10-year anniversary of Slovenian membership in the European Union. On the square, both presidential pairs were warmly welcomed by children from both sides of the border and everyone present were also able to listen to a concert ofthe Slovenian Army orchestra. After the orchestra played the Slovenian, Italian and European anthem, the presidents welcomed the youngest visitors and met with representatives of the Slovenian ethnic minority in Italy and representatives of the Italian community in Slovenia.

The President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor and the President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano at the reception on the Europe Square in Nova Gorica
Photo: Stanko Gruden/STA

As part of the commemorations to mark 100th anniversary of World War !, President Pahor, Ms Pečar and President Napolitano and his wife visited Sveta gora where the Italian and Slovenian President laid a wreath at the monument to the fallen Slovenian soldiers. In memory of this year's meeting, they uncovered a "peace" bench in the park in front of the Franciscan monastery on Sveta gora offering visitors a place of contemplation and remembrance to remind themselves that the horrors of war should never again be repeated. The presidential pairs were welcomed by Father Michael Vovk who offered them a few glimpses into the history of the Basilica on Sveta gora.

President Pahor and Ms Pečar host the Italian President Napolitano and his wife on a visit in Slovenia
Photo: Stanko Gruden/STA

The presidents made a statement to the public in which they emphasised the necessity of maintaining peace. At the beginning, the Slovenian President said that while both he and the Italian Prime Minister believe in European integration, they both also convinced of the need to preserve the national identity of nations and states that they represent.

"Today is a beautiful day, but there is also a trace of bitterness with which we commemorate the tens of millions of victims whose lives have paid for peace during World War I. President Napolitano and I are today looking into the future with great optimism and faith that the need to strengthen our personal cooperation, trust and friendship, the cooperation between the two nations and the success of the European idea, which is the cornerstone of peace and security of the old continent, will remain strong" said President Pahor.

President Napolitano was pleased that upon crossing the border between the two countries, the border itself cannot be seen any more - instead, one realizes how unnatural all such divisions are. He also added that this is one of the values​that has not been emphasised enough: "It was these borders that were once crossed by armed forces fighting brutal battles on land and in air, in all forms. It is important to remember and that we are aware of what happened, and that we are even more focused on the fact that today we are all one European family."

"Our testimony and efforts for peace are a sign of friendship, because peace is not merely the absence of a war, peace is based on much more intimate ties of friendship, cooperation and solidarity. That is what President Pahor and I want to emphasise, this is the way to establish peace, "said the Italian President Napolitano.