Minority reps attend Italian Remembrance Day ceremony for the first time
Rome, 10 February - The heads of the two umbrella organisations of the Slovenian minority in Italy attended for the first time the main ceremony in Rome marking the National Memorial Day of the Exiles and Foibe, observed by Italy on Friday.
This was the first time that minority representatives had received an invitation to the event commemorating the exile of Italian population from Istria and Dalmatia after World War II and the killings of Italians by the Partisans in the Trieste area, where the victims were tossed into Karst sinkholes, called foibe in Italian.
Ksenija Dobrila, president of the Slovenian Cultural and Economic Union, and Walter Bandelj, president of the Council of Slovenian Organisations, were not too surprised when they received their invitations. This, they said, was the continuation of significant steps toward harmony made by Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Slovenia's former President Borut Pahor over the course of the past years.
Mattarella expressed satisfaction in his address today that the foibe killings had become widely known in the Italian public, that this is being taught in school and discussed in the media. The suffering of the exiles and foibe victims must not be underestimated, Mattarella said, but also underlined the importance of continuing a policy of regular dialogue and understanding among nations.
Bandelj said ahead of the event that the invitation was a great honour and that the gesture showed the two minority organisations were becoming serious interlocutors for Italy. This, he said, was important in addressing other minority-related issues, among them education.
The newspaper Primorski Dnenvik reported that Dobrila had said she greatly appreciated the attention and persistence Mattarella showed in addressing open issues related to the minority. She also criticised political manipulation often used by Italian politicians around the Memorial Day of the Exiles and Foibe.
Meanwhile, the World War II resistance organisations of Italy, Slovenia and Croatia expressed support for the work of experts in Slovenia, Croatia and Italy, who are striving to "reconstruct the historical truth about the tragic events related to the foibe and mass exile after the capitulation of Fascist Italy".
"In interpreting and reconstructing these dramatic events we must avoid interpretations of history from the viewpoint of only one nation. Instead, we must strive for a transnational and objective perspective. Any nationalist interpretation of history must be opposed."
"The magnitude of suffering in Istria, the Slovenian coast and all Slovenian and Croatian areas under Italian occupation, and the suffering caused by exile and foibe killings can only be understood if we encourage respect, tolerance and creation of close links."