Ljubljana related

27 Jan 2022, 11:31 AM

STA, 27 January 2022 - The facade of the National Assembly will be lit up tonight in memory of the six million Jews who were killed by the Nazis and their supporters during Second World War as Slovenia joins observation of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Holocaust victims are being honoured with several events this week. The main ceremony was held in Lendava on Wednesday with President Borut Pahor calling in his keynote address for the preservation of peace, security, tolerance and coexistence.

In order to do this, both individuals and communities at home and in the international community need to promote the culture of remembrance, dialogue and peaceful resolution of disputes, the president added.

Pahor said that people should do everything in their power for reason to prevail, for things to calm down and for diplomacy to gain power so that problems around the world are solved and that the current and future generations are spared from conflict.

Before the ceremony, a delegation featuring Pahor and Israeli Ambassador Eyal Sela laid a wreath at the Jewish cemetery in Dolga Vas in the north-east of the country.

The president then visited Erika Fürst, a Jew from the Slovenian region of Prekmurje and a Holocaust survivor, with whom Pahor attended many remembrance ceremonies in recent years, and wished her a lot of health and vitality.

The National Assembly has joined the #WeRemember Campaign, initiated by World Jewish Congress in partnership with UNESCO, where people worldwide are asked to spread the message through various avenues, including social media.

The campaign, which has been running throughout the week, includes the illumination of notable monuments, coupled with the projection of moving messages in public places.

"It's our duty and the only promise for a better tomorrow to foster memory of the Holocaust victims and to cherish living together in peace with everyone, including those different from us," Speaker Igor Zorčič has said on the occasion.

"Only by preserving the memory of the past horrors and injustices and by fostering universal human values and human rights can we prevent such a tragedy from ever repeating. It is thus important and necessary to do what we can to support the efforts addressed by the #WeRemember campaign," Zorčič added.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is being observed since 2006 to coincide with the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, in 1945.

From Slovenia more than 2,300 people were deported to the camp and more than 1,300 perished there. Of those deported, 350 were Jews and at least 78 were Roma.

The Slovenian Jewish community was all but annihilated during WWII, out of around 1,500 Jews in 1939 only some 200 Slovenian Jews survived the war.

14 Jan 2022, 11:28 AM

STA, 13 January 2022 - A memorial site in Italy's Basovizza dedicated to four Slovenian victims of Fascism executed in September 1930, known as the Basovizza Heroes, has been granted the status of cultural importance by Italian regional authorities, the Trieste-based Primorski Dnevnik reported on Wednesday.

The Basovizza Heroes are regarded as symbols of opposition and resistance to the fascist regime and ideology, and as heroes of a free Europe built on the foundations of anti-fascism. The four members of the secret anti-fascist organisation Borba (Fight) - Ferdo Bidovec, Zvonimir Miloš, Franjo Marušič and Alojz Valenčič - were shot dead on 6 September 1930 near the village of Basovizza not far off from today's border between Italy and Slovenia.

The decision to grant the memorial (Spomenik Bazoviških junakov/Monumento Eroi di Basovizza) the status of cultural importance was endorsed by the Friuli Venezia Giulia authorities on Monday, Simonetta Bonomi, the head of the region's Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, confirmed for the Slovenian minority's paper.

The institute launched a procedure to grant the memorial site the status in August last year. By going through with this, the region has laid the groundwork for the memorial to become a monument of national importance in Italy in the future.

This is also the aim of the Basovizza Heroes committee at the Slovenian National and Study Library in Trieste. Moreover, together with the two umbrella minority organisations, the committee is striving to rehabilitate the four victims, who are still officially considered terrorists in Italy.

Since the Basovizza Heroes were convicted by a fast-track court, the rehabilitation procedure will be lengthy. The case falls under the purview of a military court, where a retrial and rehabilitation are difficult to achieve, the committee said.

The granting of the status was welcomed by President Borut Pahor, who thanked all who had worked for many years for "this important shift in the status of the monument", which he visited together with Italian President Sergio Mattarella in 2020.

"Following the actual return of the Trieste National Hall to the Slovenian minority, this is another important step in the Slovenian-Italian relations," the president said in a statement posted on Twitter.

The umbrella organisations of the Slovenian minority in Italy also expressed much satisfaction with the move, adding that this "historic step should be put in the broader context of the current historical moment".

The Slovenian Cultural and Economic Association (SKGZ) and the Council of Slovenian Organisations (SSO) said that the visit to the monument by the Slovenian and Italian presidents "undoubtedly contributed to the favourable outcome of the procedure."

"By paying tribute to the four fallen lads, the president of Italy recognised the importance of their fight against Fascism, and the status ... further underlines that the heroes were on the right side of history, and not terrorists."

The organisations added that this also opened a legal avenue for the annulment of the verdict with which the four were sentenced to death.

Related: Slovenian Victims of Fascism Remembered 90 Years After Executions in Basovizza

23 Dec 2021, 12:36 PM

STA, 23 December 2021 - The Slovenian Constitution turns thirty today. Passed as the final act of legal independence from Yugoslavia, it was a modern Constitution at the time and practitioners of constitutional law say it has stood the test of time. Nevertheless, many believe it may be time for certain changes.

The Constitution is abstract enough to make it possible for the Constitutional Court to interpret it in line with modern standards, according to judge Rajko Knez, who presided the Constitutional Court until last week. This kind of flexibility is a feature of good constitutions, he told the STA.

The court's new president, Matej Accetto, likewise thinks the Constitution has stood the test of time. "However, it has been shown time and again that the Constitution must be understood, used and nurtured," he said.

Accetto highlighted the basic tenets of the Constitution - rule of law, separation of powers and independence of the judiciary - as perhaps the document's most important features in a crisis such as the Covid pandemic.

"Many messages in the Constitution are written precisely for moments when something goes wrong or does not run completely smoothly. And in such moment one needs to be aware of them and implement them accordingly," he said.

The Constitution remained conceptually unchanged but it has been amended several times, most notably in the run-up to Slovenia's accession to the EU, and more recently, when the right to clean drinking water, sign language and the golden fiscal rule were enshrined in the Constitution.

Statements by prominent jurists indicate some changes may be needed in future, though they are reserved as to what scope such changes should have.

Peter Jambrek, the first president of the Constitutional Court and one of the main authors of the Constitution, told the STA the Constitution had turned out to be very stable and firm and did not need major changes since it is "brief and clear, does not go into particularities and concrete solutions."

He believes the only potential change should be a new electoral system "if the necessary majority emerges".

Miro Cerar, a jurist who acted as secretary to the group that drafted the Constitution, proposes more far-reaching changes. He told the STA provisions on the composition and powers of the upper chamber of parliament, the appointment of ministers, election of judges and the composition of the Judicial Council are ripe for change.

Similarly, Tone Jerovšek, a former judge and one of the authors of the Constitution, singled out the appointment of ministers, which are now named by the National Assembly at the proposal of the prime minister, an arrangement he said was unique.

It would also make sense to implement changes regarding the electoral system and the upper chamber of parliament, which Jerovšek thinks should be strengthened.

But Cerar also warned that all changes must be careful and substantiated. "It would be damaging to interfere in the very foundations of the Constitution if this was not absolutely needed."

For years the most often voiced complaint about the country's Constitutional framework, at least from the ranks of jurists, has been that it opens the door too wide to the Constitutional Court, which has resulted in a very high caseload for the judges.

According to Knez, the last change of the act governing the Constitutional Court made access to the court easier, prompting him to warn the State Attorney's Office that the time it takes to process motions was becoming a problem that could end up being adjudicated by the European Court of Human Rights.

Jerovšek agrees that access to the court is too broad, as evidenced by thousands of applications the court has had to deal with during the pandemic.

He thinks the court should accept only the most glaring cases of violations, which would reduce the caseload and allow the court to delve deeper into each individual case.

You can read the constitution here

23 Nov 2021, 11:16 AM

STA, 23 November - Slovenia observes Rudolf Maister Day on Tuesday, remembering the general who established the first Slovenian army in modern history and secured what later became Slovenia's northern border. The holiday commemorates the day in 1918 when Maister (1874-1934) took control of Maribor.

Following the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian empire, Major Maister prevented Maribor and the Podravje region from being made part of German Austria, the country created after WWI comprising areas of the former empire with a predominantly German-speaking population.

On 30 October 1918, the German city council declared Maribor and its surroundings part of German Austria, which Maister found unacceptable. He set up a Slovenian army of 4,000 soldiers, disarmed the German Schutzwehr security service, and disbanded the militia of the German city council.

The general then occupied Slovenian ethnic territory, establishing the northern border between Austria and Yugoslavia that was later ratified by the Saint Germain Peace Treaty. The same border still runs between Slovenia and Austria today.

Maister is buried at Maribor's Pobrežje Cemetery. Until recently, he had a modest grave but on the eve of the holiday a new tomb holding his remains was unveiled.

A few events have been scheduled to mark the holiday, including open day at the Presidential Palace in Ljubljana and a round table in Škofja Loka dedicated to fighters from Škofja Loka area who fought under him.

Rudolf Maister Day has been a public holiday since 2005, although not as a bank holiday.

12 Sep 2021, 08:13 AM

STA, 11 September 2021 - The main ceremony remembering the return of the western Primorska region to the homeland was held in Idrija, west of Ljubljana, on Saturday. The event also marked 74 years since the implementation of the Paris Peace Treaty under which Primorska was reunited with Slovenia after being under Italian rule since the end of WWI.

The keynote speaker at the ceremony ahead of the 15 September holiday was a young scientist from Idrija who lives in the US, Nina Leskovec.

Idrija Mayor Tomaž Vencelj said it was important this year's ceremony was held in Idrija, which has been an important part of Primorska for half a century and made the region richer with its natural beauty, heritage and successful economy.

The cultural programme in Idrija's central square presented the life and work of Črtomir Šinkovec (1914-1983), a partisan, poet, journalist and editor from Vojsko pri Idriji, and concluded with Primorska Rising, the region's informal anthem.

President Borut Pahor told the press after the show that this song was what connected the region's people in rebellion, and connected them in standing up to occupying forces in WWII.

"Perhaps other people in Slovenia find it difficult to understand that almost all people of Primorska perceive the red star differently. At the time it was a symbol of resistance. After the war crimes did occur under it, but this symbol of resistance cannot be taken away from the people of Primorska," he said.

The president said it was necessary to live together in harmony and understand each other. "I think there is enough space for everyone to live together, but this era being what it is, we have to make an effort."

While all Slovenian people were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until World War One, the western region of Primorska became part of Italy after the war.

The Paris peace conference ended in 1919 with no solution to the border issue between Italy and the newly-emerged Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovens, Yugoslavia's predecessor.

Then, under the 1920 Rapallo Treaty, Italy got what is roughly referred to as Primorska, including the cities of Trieste and Gorizia, Vipava and Soča Valleys, Kras, Istria and parts of the Notranjska region.

The area remained under Italy, or under Nazi Germany after its 1943 capitulation, until the end of WWII, when Istria and Trieste were occupied by Yugoslav Partisans, while the western part of Primorska was taken by the allies.

The allies made the Partisans retreat in June 1945, dividing the area into two zones, one under the allied command and the other under the Yugoslav military administration.

The 1947 Paris Peace Treaty brought a compromise, giving Yugoslavia a large part of the areas it wanted to have under its administration, including around Gorizia and Trieste.

As a result, the majority of Primorska people were brought under Yugoslavia after suffering under Fascism for more than 20 years and then briefly under Nazi Germany.

Nevertheless, an estimated 140,000 Slovenians remained outside Yugoslavia's borders, as the peace treaty gave Italy Gorizia, Resia, Benečija and Val Canale.

Day of Return of Primorska to the Motherland, evoking the implementation of the Paris Peace Treaty, has been celebrated since 2005, being introduced under the Janez Janša government, although not as a work-free day.

02 Aug 2021, 17:18 PM

STA, 2 August 2021 - A memorial ceremony was held in Sinagoga Maribor on Monday to mark Roma Holocaust Memorial Day to commemorate the victims of the genocide committed against the Roma in WWII. "This should be spoken about so that such things do not repeat," Amanda Fetahi of the Maribor Roma community said on the occasion.

Today's traditional event, called The Night When Violins Went Silent (Noč, ko so violine obmolknile), was hosted by the Sinagoga Maribor centre of Jewish culture and the Association Epeka with jurist Vera Klopčič talking about the recently adopted definition of antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination by member states of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

The definition stipulates that ceremonies remembering the victims of the Holocaust also mention the victims of Porajmos, the attempt at ethnic cleansing and genocide against Europe's Romani people by the Nazis in WWII.

"The remembrance of the Roma genocide had been pushed aside for a long time, kept silent in the activities for remembering the Holocaust. This definition obliges countries to include remembrance of the victims of the Romani genocide in awareness-raising activities," said Klopčič.

She stressed that these activities were of key importance for eliminating prejudices, collective intolerance and hatred towards the Roma and, consequently, equal inclusion of the Roma in the broader community. "It is important that this is talked about and that it is noted where such phenomena can lead to."

Association Epeka president Štefan Simončič said that the most burning problem was the unemployment rate among the Roma, which according to unofficial data in the Maribor area exceeds 90%. The association is thus mulling a lawsuit against the state over the inability to eliminate this problem.

"It is unheard of that 20 years after a huge amount of EU funds was invested in employment of the Roma, the employment rate is so low," he said, adding that the main reason for the lack of progress was "institutional discrimination. The Roma are being blamed, while the money is gone."

The Romani genocide will also be remembered on Friday in Murska Sobota and in Petanjci, where a tree will be planted in the Remembrance and Friendship Park to mark the 50th anniversary of the first international congress of the Roma.

This will be followed by a round table debate in Murska Sobota about the situation and expectations of the Roma in Europe and laying of a wreath at the memorial plaque remembering the Roma victims of WWII.

The international community has been marking Roma Holocaust Memorial Day on 2 August, with the day being chosen because on the night to 3 August 1944, almost 3,000 Roma, mostly women, children and elderly people, were killed at Auschwitz.

A total of 21,000 are believed to be killed at Auschwitz, coming from 14 European countries. The Roma were also being exterminated in other Nazi camps, with the most recent estimates putting the total number of victims between 1939 and 1945 at at least half a million.

07 Jul 2021, 15:20 PM

STA, 7 July 2021 - Thirty years to the day, the Brijuni [sometimes written Brioni] Declaration was adopted, ending hostilities between Yugoslav and Slovenian forces in the ten-day independence war and suspending Slovenia's independence activities for three months. It was the first international agreement between Slovenia and the EU's predecessor, the European Economic Community (EEC).

Following diplomatic efforts that began after the outbreak of independence war in Slovenia, the declaration was signed on the Brijuni Islands in Croatia on 7 July 1991 after 15 hours of negotiations. The agreement was endorsed by the Slovenian Assembly on 10 July.

The parties to the declaration were the representatives of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, the Yugoslav federal authorities and the trio representing the EEC, made up of the foreign ministers of Luxembourg, Portugal and the Netherlands.

The representatives from Slovenia were the president of the Slovenian presidency Milan Kučan, Prime Minister Lojze Peterle, Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, the Slovenian representative in the Yugoslav Presidency Janez Drnovšek, and the Speaker of the Slovenian Assembly, France Bučar.

The Yugoslav delegation featured Prime Minister Ante Marković, Interior Minister Petar Gračanin, Foreign Minister Budimir Lončar, Deputy Defence Minister Stane Brovet and other members of the Presidency of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). Croatia was represented by President Franjo Tuđman.

In the declaration, the parties agreed that in order to resolve the situation peacefully, several principles must be strictly respected, including that only the peoples of Yugoslavia can decide their own future, and that negotiations should start immediately, and no later than 1 August 1991.

The European Community pledged to offer assistance in finding peaceful and lasting solutions, provided that all obligations are strictly respected.

In an annex to the declaration, it was agreed that Slovenian police would control Slovenian border crossings in accordance with Yugoslav federal regulations.

The parties agreed on the unblocking of all units and facilities of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), the unconditional withdrawal of JNA troops to barracks, the removal of all road barricades, the return of all JNA assets and equipment, and the deactivation of all Slovenian Territorial Defence units.

The Brijuni Declaration did not fully satisfy any of the parties involved in the Yugoslav crisis. For Slovenia, the most contentious provision was the three-month suspension of independence activities, which was seen by some as a temporary renunciation of independence, the unblocking of JNA barracks, and the return of JNA assets and equipment.

The declaration was met with mixed reactions in the country - some considered it necessary to stop the war at all cost, while others felt that the Slovenian delegation at Brijuni gave up what had been gained with the Declaration of Independence and during the ten-day war.

But even though Slovenia committed to a three-month suspension of the independence process, the process was actually accelerated.

The Yugoslav leadership realised that it would not be able to stop Slovenian independence and decided to withdraw its troops from Slovenia within three months on 18 July 1991. The last JNA troops left the port of Koper on 25 October.

Later that summer, on 27 August 1991, the EEC set up an arbitration commission to resolve legal issues related to the break-up of Yugoslavia. The commission's conclusions paved the way for the international recognition of Slovenia.

As historian Božo Repe pointed out for the STA in April, the Brijuni Declaration was the first international document that recognised Slovenia as an international subject. With it, Slovenia passed the maturity test in entering international relations and saved itself from war, he said.

Prime Minister Janez Janša also spoke about the declaration and the negotiations in Brijuni when he presented the priorities of the Slovenian EU presidency to the European Parliament on Tuesday.

He said that the Brijuni negotiations had restored Slovenia's hope in Europe, which had been striving to preserve Yugoslavia until the start of the war in Slovenia.

29 Jun 2021, 11:17 AM

STA, 29 June 2021 - It is exactly 20 years on Tuesday since an agreement was signed by the countries successors to Yugoslavia to divide the obligations and property of the former common state. The office of the high representative for succession has told the STA that Slovenia is constantly striving for active resolution of open issues.

The agreement, mediated by the international community, was signed on 29 June 2001 in Vienna by the foreign ministers of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (legal successor is Serbia) and Macedonia (now North Macedonia).

Ten years after the break-up of Yugoslavia, it was the first succession agreement, and a peace treaty of sorts, as it was the first agreement to be signed by all five successors. It entered into force three years later, when it was ratified by Croatia as the last country to do so in June 2004.

The agreement regulates division of movable and immovable property of the former Yugoslavia, consular and diplomatic representations, financial issues, archives, social security, pensions, private property and acquired rights.

The shares obtained by Slovenia in various fields reach from 14% to 16.39%, and constant talks and negotiations are taking place in relation to the implementation of the agreement both between the successors and with third countries.

On the occasion of the anniversary, the office of the high representative for succession Miha Pogačnik said that Slovenia and its authorised representatives were constantly striving for active resolution of open succession issues.

These are unresolved issues from the past, whose closure would contribute to reconciliation and improvement of regional cooperation, it said.

Slovenia has already received the bulk of the financial property of the former Yugoslavia it is entitled to in the forms of cash, gold and other precious metals, foreign currency deposits in foreign commercial banks and securities.

This property obtained by Slovenia is estimated at a total of EUR 220 million, and does not include the Triglav patrol boat that was acquired in 2011 as part of a clearing debt from Russia.

Slovenia has also obtained 83% of the former diplomatic and consular offices of the former Yugoslavia it is entitled to - in Washington, Rome, Milan, Klagenfurt, Brasilia, Morocco, Mali, Tanzania and Guyana.

The country got around US$3.5 million from the sale of a residence in New York and the embassies in Tokyo and Bonn that the successor countries have sold together. The procedures to sell the building of the former embassy in Bern and the permanent representation in New York are under way.

Slovenia has so far also taken over around 230 works of art by Slovenian artists that were located in diplomatic and consular representations around the world.

It has also assumed more than 100 original copies of international treaties signed by the former Yugoslavia that relate exclusively to the territory of present-day Slovenia, and documentation related to borders with Italy, Austria and Hungary.

The office of the high representative for succession also noted that Slovenia is the initiator of a project to digitalise the joint archival material of the former Yugoslavia that would enable all successors to access copies.

At the last meeting of the high representatives in November 2019 in Zagreb, all successors endorsed the proposal from Slovenia that funds for the project are obtained also from international financial resources.

The office also emphasised as an important achievement the start of talks with Serbia about the succession to cultural heritage items located in institutions of Serbia and that, in accordance with the agreement, belong to Slovenia.

24 Jun 2021, 12:55 PM

STA, 23 June 2021 - The celebrations of the 30 years of Slovenia's sovereignty and independence will culminate with the main national ceremony on Statehood Day on Friday, 25 June, in memory of the day in 1991 when the Slovenian parliament passed several key documents for the country to leave the former Yugoslavia and become fully independent.

The high-profile ceremony will be held on Friday evening in Republic Square in Ljubljana, the same spot where the country's independence was ceremoniously declared on 26 June 1991.

The 9pm ceremony will also be an occasion to celebrate the start of Slovenia's EU presidency due on 1 July, so several senior foreign officials are expected to attend it.

Details of the ceremony have not yet been revealed, not even the main speaker, who is usually one of the senior-most politicians.

However, Statehood Day ceremonies are usually introduced with a firing cannon salute from Ljubljana Castle followed by a cultural programme and the main speech.

The Government Communication Office (UKOM) said this year Slovenia will be celebrated with songs, dances and recitals.

Despite coronavirus restrictions, a number of Slovenian and foreign politicians will attend the ceremony, but the list of foreign guests is still being finalised.

Representatives of all veteran organisations have also been invited. Independence War veterans confirmed their attendance and so has the head of the WWII veteran organisation, Marijan Križman.

Opposition leaders will meanwhile be largely absent. Marjan Šarec (LMŠ) and Luka Mesec (Left) will not attend, Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) new leader Ljubo Jasnič has not received the invitation and the SNS's Zmago Jelinčič will address a smaller Statehood Day event in Radenci.

Mesec will meanwhile go to an alternative 7pm event in Prešeren Square, which will be organised by groups attending Friday evening anti-government protests.

Before the state ceremony, the upper and lower chambers of parliament will meet for their festive sessions and an exhibition on Slovenia's 30 years by photographer Srdjan Živulović will open at the Parliament House.

The Slovenian Armed Forces guard of honour will be lined up at the entrance to Presidential Palace, which will be open to members of the public, who will be addressed by President Borut Pahor.

Following a democratisation drive in Slovenia and a deteriorating economic and national situation in the multi-ethnic Yugoslavia in the 1980s, the Slovenian assembly passed the key documents governing Slovenia's independence on 25 June 1991: the Basic Charter on Sovereignty and Independence, the constitutional law on to implement the charter, and the Declaration on Independence.

As the new legislation was passed, the then president of the assembly, France Bučar, said: "Long live sovereign and independent Slovenia!", to which the delegates, or MPs, stood up and applauded.

The Basic Charter says Slovenia is a sovereign and independent nation which assumes all rights and duties that were transferred onto the former Yugoslavia.

The Declaration on Independence set down a future course for the newly independent state - kind of a country Slovenia wants to be, with which institutions it intends to integrate or what relations it wants to have with former Yugoslav republics.

Independence was declared at a public event in Republic Square on 26 June 1991, when the flag of the Republic of Slovenia replaced the flag of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia in front of the parliament.

However, the festivities were short-lived as Yugoslav army tanks headed from barracks in Slovenia and Croatia to Slovenia's borders with Italy, Austria and Hungary, triggering a ten-day war of independence.

Following a ceasefire based on the 7 July 1991 Brijuni Declaration, brokered by the EU's predecessor, and a subsequent three-month independence process moratorium Slovenia had to agree to, the last Yugoslav soldiers left Slovenia in October of the same year as the Yugoslav authorities realised Slovenia could no longer be persuaded to stay in Yugoslavia.

06 Jun 2021, 09:21 AM

STA, 5 June 2021 - Retired Ljubljana Archbishop Anton Stres addressed the annual memorial and mass for victims of post-WWII reprisal killings in the Kočevski Rog woods on Saturday, noting that that reconciliation was yet to be reached in Slovenia.

The conditions for that include revealing truth about the post-war executions and condemning those who have committed the acts and forgiveness by those from the other side, he added at the ceremony at the Pod Krenom grave site.

Stres said that reconciliation could not be reached with a single act, such as the reconciliation ceremony 31 years ago, when the first public ceremony for the victims of the post-war reprisal killings was held after several decades.

It is a process that has several steps, and the first step is, according to him, unconditional commitment to truth.

"Calls could be heard that history needs to remain as written and told in the time of the rule of those who perpetrated the killings. But truth cannot be locked down, and it is impossible to prescribe it, because it tells a story on its own."

Another step, according to Stres, is the right that the people who are lying in the chasms of Kočevski Rog and their relatives are still waiting for.

"As long as no one is sentenced for these crimes and the vow of silence is so effective, with those who know many things not being allowed or not daring to talk, our country will not be what it should be," Stres said.

The third step towards reconciliation is forgiveness, which is the only way out "so that we start living a new life and look forward".

"To forgive means not to sweep things under the rug and say that a crime is not a crime. To forgive means letting go of any revengefulness and look forward, and not backwards," Stres said.

He assessed that there was not enough compassion in Slovenia for all post-war mass graves to be properly marked, and that after 76 years all victims could get a grave appropriate to their "inalienable human dignity".

According to him, the blame is also on various political groups that fail to make the necessary steps, "because they do not want to lose a certain number of voters or are cemented in past ideologies of hatred and false propaganda."

The ceremony organised by the New Slovenian Covenant association was also attended by Prime Minister Borut Pahor, Prime Minister Janez Janša and several ministers, including Defence Minister Matej Tonin.

Tonin, the president of the coalition New Slovenia party, said in a statement that histories of nations were very different and sometimes very painful.

"But it nevertheless needs to be accepted as it is - realistic and without sugar-coating. Wounds of the past need to be healed, and the dead need to be shown the basic civilisational respect by giving them proper burial," he added.

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