Cross-border project aiming to overcome past animosities

Ljubljana, 11 June - The Institute for Ethnic Studies hosted on Monday an event presenting a Slovenian-Austrian project focusing on overcoming historical animosities through dialogue. Running since 2013, the project resulted in joint commemorations for victims on both sides of the border the two countries have fought over since World War I.

HQ of the Institute for Ethnic Studies.
Photo: An┼że Malovrh/STA

Entitled Peace Region Alps-Adriatic, the project stemmed from a special task force established in Carinthia to deal with vandalism against bilingual place name signs in the early 2000s.

By encouraging dialogue between the German-speaking majority and Slovenian minority, the task force gradually spurred the cross-border project.

In the future they hope to attract other countries along the Alps and the Adriatic, and countries of SE Europe.

Marjan Sturm, the head of the Association of Slovenian Organisations (ZSO), said in Ljubljana today that understanding that there were casualties on both sides of the border was key to this dialogue and that people should avoid seeing things black and white.

Those involved in the project believe that their biggest achievements are joint commemorations for victims of what the Austrian side considers the defence of its southern border and the Slovenian side calls the fight for its northern border.

"The next generations of former enemies transformed the commemorations into a peace manifesto," said Sturm.

© STA, 2018