President honours two artists, Slovenian activist
Ljubljana, 14 July - President Borut Pahor has honoured writer Zorko Simčič, sculptor Mirsad Begić and Stanislava Gregorič, an active member of the Slovenian community in Australia, with state decorations at the Presidential Palace on Wednesday.
Novelist, playwright and essayist Simčič, 99, received the Silver Order of Merit for his literature, which he largely wrote while living in Argentina from 1948 to 1994, and for promoting Slovenian culture in the Slovenian community in Argentina.
He returned to Slovenia after the country became independent, and became a regular member of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) in 2011.
He is considered one of the most important writers writing outside Slovenia and one of the most prominent Slovenian authors in general.
His best known novel, The Man on Both Sides of the Wall (1957) is considered one of the main Slovenian emigration works and of the main Slovenian post-WWII novels.
In 2013, he received the prestigious Prešeren Prize for his literary oeuvre.
Begić, a 66-year-old Bosnian who has lived in Slovenia for over 40 years, received the Order of Merit for his sculptures, many of which are public statues scattered around the country.
He is one of the most important, popular and lyrical representatives of Slovenian sculptors who came to prominence in the 1980s.
Some of his public workers have become part of the Slovenian national consciousness, including a relief of the 20th century Ljubljana bishops on the cathedral's door.
Gregorič meanwhile received the Medal of Merit for being "an important voice about the homeland for Slovenians in Australia".
She left Yugoslavia in 1974 to work for 28 years among the Slovenians in Australia until her return home in 2002.
As a writer and editor, she worked to unite members of the Slovenian community in Australia and connect the community with Slovenia.
She was very active in promoting Slovenian independence, and for instance facilitated the establishment of an association to support democracy in Slovenia in support of the Slovenian DEMOS coalition.
"Her works are also historical documents which cherish the memory about the time of Slovenian independence," the president's office said.