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President Pahor and Italian President Mattarella attend the ceremony upon the unveiling of a monument dedicated to Slovenian soldiers who died on the Isonzo Front between 1915 and 1917

Doberdò del Lago, Italy, 26. 10. 2016 | press release, speech

The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, and the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, attended a ceremony upon the unveiling of the monument dedicated to Slovenian soldiers who lost their lives on the Isonzo Front between 1915 and 1917 in Doberdò del Lago, Italy. At their recent bilateral meeting which took place during the international conference in Sofia, Bulgaria, President Pahor and President Mattarella agreed to attend this ceremony together and convey with their presence the determination for cooperation and peace and a future with no wars.

President Pahor and Italian President Mattarella attend the ceremony upon the unveiling of a monument dedicated to Slovenian soldiers who died on the Isonzo Front between 1915 and 1917
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Speech by the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, at the ceremony on the occasion of unveiling the monument dedicated to Slovenian soldiers who died on the Isonzo Front between 1915 and 1917:
The spoken word applies.

Dear Mister President and Dear Friend Sergio Mattarella,
Dear Mayor,
Dear Fellow Countrymen and Countrywomen,
Dear Italian Friends,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Wars do not solve problems. They create new ones. All wars create new problems, particularly great, world wars. In principle, war is unfair. It is usually initiated by incompetent or reckless leaders, while innocent soldiers and people suffer immensely.

The Great War, later known as the First World War, is the best example of this tragic fact. It was not necessary; it was not inevitable. The world and humankind were not destined to be thrown off their moral hinges by the war. Such was the decision of political and military leaders. They were incorrectly convinced that the war would solve problems and that it would be short-lived. None of that was true.

Despite a four-year butchery, the problems did not go away. On the contrary, new ones accumulated and it took only twenty years for humankind to start another, even more terrible world war, which was so incomprehensibly monstrous that the historical memory of the atrocities of the First World War became quite vague because of it.

By erecting this monument, we warn the present and future generations against the absurdity of human tragedy that happened one hundred years ago. This is a monument dedicated to the fallen soldiers of Slovenian mothers. A sad Slovenian hymn, Oj, Doberdob, sings of them. But in a metaphorical sense, it is a monument to all young fallen soldiers regardless of their nationality. It is a reminder to all who are willing to accept lessons from our history. Even the noblest of objectives, in the name of which wars are started, are smothered on the site of ashes of the killed and crippled innocent people and watered by the tears of their miserable relatives.

Dear Mister President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

it seems that the Europeans did not learn the basic lesson from the First and Second World Wars. Problems must be solved peacefully. Our lives will be more pleasant and easier if we also cooperate and build a joint world of peace and prosperity.

For almost three quarters of a century, this realisation has spared European nations from wars and has gifted them with peace and progress. On the basis of a post-war reconciliation, the great European idea of harmony and in-depth cross-border cooperation was born and bloomed, which for decades enabled us to fearlessly think about a safe and better future.

We must thus not carelessly hear and follow the sound of sirens which again call on the European nations to return to the sharp reefs of national antagonisms as if the past was forgotten.

Not to ignore them is now our fundamental task. But this is the easy part. It will be more difficult to convincingly prove the benefits of openness and cooperation. We must not be quick to judge those who fail to see it immediately. It is essential that we make an effort for their opinion and spirit.

We are responsible for reaffirming human faith in a joint future with the policy of peaceful solving of all disputes, excellent cross-border and good neighbourly cooperation, mutual respect and while emphasising the importance of a common Europe for sustainable peace and security.

This monument dedicated to Slovenian soldiers who fought in the First World War on opposite sides fighting in this region is a commemorative inspiration for this and future generations to build a world with no wars, a world of peace and sincere cooperation.

Dear Mister President, Dear Friend Sergio Mattarella,

I am very pleased that we have agreed to attend this commemorative ceremony. We kindly ask everyone to interpret our presence as a joint message of Slovenian and Italian friendship and promotion of European unity.