Centenary of Carinthia plebiscite marked in Klagenfurt

Klagenfurt, 10 October - The central ceremony marking the centenary of the Carinthia plebiscite, which left a sizeable Slovenian-speaking community in Austria, will be held in Klagenfurt today. For the first time, the presidents of both countries, Slovenia's Borut Pahor and Austria's Alexander Van der Bellen, will attend the event together.

Klagenfurt, Austria
Klagenfurt, the capital of Austria's Carinthia, the region where the majority of Slovenians in Austria live.
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA
File photo

The pair, who will also open the first bilingual nativity scene at the Slomšek Home on the occasion, will deliver addresses at the Klagenfurt Town Hall in the morning along with several more senior officials, starting with Reinhart Rohr, the speaker of the Carinthian parliament.

Pahor and Van der Bellen will meet members of the "gemeinsam 2020 skupno" project group for cooperation and attend the launch of a light sculpture by the winner of the GRENZENLOS-BREZMEJNO (without borders) competition, Tomas Hokej.

They will also visit the travelling exhibition CHARINTHIja 2020, which uses innovative methods to encourage dialogue with visitors, take them on a voyage through 100 years of history, while also reflecting on the present and future.

Pahor will be accompanied on what is an official visit to Austria by Minister for Slovenian Abroad Helena Jaklitsch, who will visit Sankt Jakob im Rosental together with the Austrian minister responsible for minorities Susanne Raab. The Sankt Jakob im Rosental municipality recently decided to put up bilingual signposts and town signs.

A hundred years to the day, a referendum was held in the province of Carinthia in accordance with the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. People were asked whether they wanted to be part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes or Austria.

The area had been divided into two zones and the vote was first held in the southern zone, centred around the town of Voelkermarkt. The result was 59% in favour of Austria on a 96% turnout. In line with the rules set down, the outcome rendered the vote in the northern zone, which included the city of Klagenfurt, obsolete.

Since then the Slovenian community has considerably shrunk and become increasingly assimilated.

© STA, 2020