Diaspora minister visits Slovenian minority in Gorizia

Gorizia, 17 June - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Matej Arčon paid an official visit to Gorizia on Friday to meet representatives of the umbrella organisations of the Slovenian minority in Italy. They talked about future cooperation and topical issues, including how to secure a minority representative in the Italian parliament.

"We will also precisely determine goals in the autumn and chart the path to these goals," Arčon said after the meeting.

He added that the focus was on securing a representative of the Slovenian minority in the Italian parliament and a "permanent representative in the provincial government," probably in reference to the north-eastern region of Friuli Venezia Giulia.

They also talked about the 2025 European Capital of Culture, to be jointly hosted by Slovenia's Nova Gorica and Italy's Gorizia, and the role of Slovenians in Italy in the project.

"This will certainly feature the largest meeting so far of Slovenians in the neighbouring countries and abroad," the minister said, expressing the wish for them to be the "largest promoters of the European Capital of Culture."

The meeting also discussed the role and fate of the Slavia Friulana region, which is populated by the Slovenian minority, and which has long been disadvantaged and is growing emptier as people are emigrating from the area.

"Slavia Friulana is a priority for us, as we have been experiencing the largest demographic decline there for many years," said Walter Bandelj, president of the Council of Slovenian Organisations (SSO).

He said that while a decline in the Slovenian population had also been recorded in Gorizia and Trieste, the situation in Slavia Friulana was much worse, noting that businesses had long left the area, and that there were not even shops there.

"The largest entity there is a bilingual school, which is absolutely unacceptable. Economic or tourist development will be needed, and it would mean a lot if the European Capital of Culture could be extended to Slavia Friulana," he said.

Arčon said a joint project for Slavia Friulana would be prepared to stop the emigration, modelled after a project in the Porabje region in Hungary. Monthly meetings will be held to see how to make the area attractive again for the current and potential new residents.

© STA, 2022