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Pahor: war victims memorial will promote peace, reconciliation

Pahor: war victims memorial will promote peace, reconciliation
The Slovenian people became a nation when they established their own country, while the central national memorial to all victims of war and war-related violence is making them a mature nation, President Pahor said as he addressed the monument's inauguration yesterday.

According to Pahor, the two slabs joined at the base, which are located on the northern side of Ljubljana's Congress Square, will promote peace and reconciliation, within the nation as well as with others.

"It is an invitation to reflect, to think. Nobody is obliged to accept the invitation. Everyone should act according to their own conscience and freely," Pahor said in his keynote address at the monument, which is meant to help bridge the continuing divide created during and after WWII.

He remembered the victims of WWI, the TIGR anti-Fascist organisation from the 1920-30s, the national liberation movement, the victims of revolutionary and counter-revolutionary violence, of extrajudicial killings and unjust convictions, as well as the victims of the 1991 independence war.

"My people, the nation I belong to, is now without fear and is freely and eagerly looking at the challenges of the future. We will persist, because we don't hate each other despite all the quarrelling," Pahor said.

The president, who hopes the monument will not become the subject of vandalism, is convinced that "our children...will be raised for harmony, respect and cooperation".

The event started with a wreath laying ceremony that featured Pahor, Speaker Milan Brglez, Prime Minister Miro Cerar, National Council President Mitja Bervar, Chief of the General Staff, Maj Gen Andrej Osterman, and Police Commissioner Marjan Fank.

The state ceremony also included the Slovenian anthem played by the orchestras of the Slovenian army and police and a short performance by the Slovenian Octet choir. It was followed by a prayer led by Ljubljana Archbishop Stanislav Zore.

Pahor's views were echoed after the ceremony by Cerar, Brglez and Bervar. Both Cerar and Brglez noted that reconciliation depends on all of us, not only politics, which merely creates conditions for it.

Cerar said the monument was a "warning that we need to cultivate forgiveness and seek reconciliation, both within us and towards others", "to learn from the past which mistakes must not be repeated".

The low-key ceremony was attended by several hundred people, by some estimates. It saw only one incident before the official beginning, as some participants came with signs but soon left. One of the signs said: "Reconciliation declares treason an expression of honour to the homeland."

The memorial has been erected in line with 2009 amendments to the war graves act and will honour all war victims as well as those who died in Communist-led reprisal killings after WWII.

It carries a verse by one of Slovenia's greatest poets, Oton Župančič (1878-1949): "One homeland is given to each one of us, and one life and one death."

While most political parties acknowledged the symbolical value of the monument, some argued that it does not yet mean reconciliation.

The Left and the Democrats (SDS) issued the most critical statement before the ceremony, although for opposite reasons. The SDS's Janez Janša spoke of "another distortion of the truth", while the Left's Violeta Tomić called the memorial a "monument to political opportunism"./IBNA

Source: The Slovenia Times

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