President decorates Trieste Slovenians and mayor
Ljubljana, 24 February - President Borut Pahor presented state decorations on Thursday to Tatjana Rojc, the Slovenian serving as a senator in Rome, and minority officials Walter Bandelj and Ksenija Dobrila, all of whom are prominent representatives of Slovenians in Trieste, as well as Trieste Mayor Roberto Dipiazza.
At the ceremony in the Presidential Palace, Rojc received the Golden Order of Merit for her contribution to deepening cooperation between Slovenia and Italy and support for the Slovenian minority in Italy.
The senator is credited with contributing to the Trieste National Hall being returned to the Slovenian minority and organisation of memorial ceremonies in Basovizza and in the twin border cities of Gorizia and Nova Gorica.
"Rojc has always firmly supported the idea to return the National Hall to the Slovenian minority and has managed to convince her Italian colleagues to pass the relevant legislative changes in the Italian parliament, says the explanation.
Bandelj and Dobrila received the Silver Order of Merit as the presidents of the Council of Slovenian Organisations (SSO) and the Slovenian Cultural and Economic Union (SKGZ), respectively, for the same efforts.
President Pahor also conferred the Silver Order of Merit to Roberto Dipiazza, who served as the mayor of Trieste between 2001 and 2011 and again since 2016.
The president's office noted Dipiazza's commitment to reconciliation among the two nations that are looking for a better and common future after tragic historical experiences.
"He did everything that was required so that the return of the National Hall was implemented correctly and in time," the explanations says, noting that he had stood firmly behind the decision to return the building to the Slovenian minority.
At the ceremony, Rojc said that the "new foundations bring an opportunity to plan the future" and that the National Hall should become a "symbolic space for contemplation, events, planning and cooperation in the European spirit."
Bandelj noted the importance of good neighbourly relations and the symbolic importance of the presidents of Slovenia and Italy holding hands at the ceremony in Basovizza in July 2020, labelling it as a symbol of the European community.
Dobrila called for culture of peace and coexistence and for acts of reconciliation to be reflected in the everyday life of ordinary people.
She expects an apology from Italy for the period of Fascism, when "our nation was destined for extinction" and calls for full respect for the language rights of the Slovenian ethnic community in Italy.
The Trieste mayor noted in his address that the need for reconciliation and a common path in the border area has been recognised two decades ago, and that major steps to this end had been taken in the last decade.
Dipiazza said that the ceremony in Basovizza had started a "new era" and also noted the effort by Pahor, whom he labelled a friend of his, in helping resolve the issue of the return of the National Hall.