Govt councils discuss ways to improve situation of Slovenians abroad

Ljubljana, 22 March - The government councils for Slovenians in the neighbouring countries and for Slovenians abroad met in the last two days to discuss topical issues, work of minority organisations, future financial perspective, competing in Interreg projects, as well as how to preserve and improve the knowledge of Slovenian among Slovenians around the world.

At Monday's session of the council for Slovenians in the neighbouring countries, Prime Minister Janez Janša, the chair of the council, said that efforts should be continued to preserve the existence of Slovenians in the neighbouring countries, their language and culture, and the economic power of their organisations.

"Quite a few breakthroughs have been made in this field during the term of this government," he said, noting the return of the National Hall in Trieste to the Slovenian minority in Italy as a historic event, something that transcends the actual value of the building.

Janša also noted the importance of the signing the Slovenian-Hungarian governmental agreement on cooperation in the economic and social development of the bi-ethnic area on both sides of the border, which was signed a month ago.

"Such a form of cooperation could be established with some other neighbours," he added at the session, at which representatives of the Slovenian ethnic communities in Austria, Italy, Croatia and Hungary praised the cooperation with the government.

The session also featured Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitsch, as well as the ministers of education, culture, development and European cohesion policy and the interior, the Government Communication Office said.

On Tuesday, the government council for Slovenians abroad discussed efforts to preserve and improve the knowledge of Slovenian among Slovenes around the world, in addition to the ongoing work and guidelines for the future work of the council, the prime minister's office announced.

In addition to Jaklitsch, also present were representatives of the Slovenian communities in the neighbouring countries and abroad, and of organisations that work on preserving the Slovenian identity around the world, as well as several ministers.

Janša, the chair of the council, thanked the representatives for "their ambassadorial work and representing Slovenia abroad", adding that "we could increase the diplomatic network tenfold, but it could never be compared with the effect that your work brings".

The prime minister noted the role of Slovenians around the world during the independence efforts and called for sessions of the council to be held more frequently. He welcomed the efforts to improve the situation of Slovenians abroad and noted the importance of work with the younger generations.

Jaklitsch said that the Covid-19 epidemic had resulted in young people getting more involved in the work of minority organisations, demonstrating their digital skills to maintain contact within the community and with Slovenia.

Minority representatives said that preserving Slovenian was of key importance, as otherwise assimilation gets accelerated, adding that Slovenia can and must support them by providing material, teachers and trainings, the Government Office for Slovenians Abroad said.

Also discussed at the session was the idea that Slovenes around the world have their representative in the Slovenian National Assembly, the office added.

© STA, 2022