ITF one of Slovenia's top global initiatives, president says
The president stressed the importance of clearing mines from former war zones. Mine fields jeopardise human lives and affect all aspects of life: from agriculture, business and education of children, who are limited in their mobility by landmine fields.
In the past two decades, the fund has gradually expanded its activities to conflict prevention and development and renovation challenges, the president noted.
The ITF has cleared mine fields in over 30 countries, provided psychological support to more than 17,500 people and educated 54,000 people about the dangers of landmines.
"One of its biggest achievements is its ability to focus on the human in human security," said the president, underlining the importance of personal and respectful approach.
Since its inception, the fund has enabled physical rehabilitation of over 1,300 people who were injured by landmines. "Thanks to donors, the ITF became the leading organisation in human security - its work is an impressive achievement."
ITF director Tomaž Lovrenčič said that the US had been a firm supporter of the fund throughout the past two decades, helping build peace and security in SE Europe, the Middle East, central Asia and west Africa.
"Today, we are active in 17 countries around the globe, our biggest mission being in Afghanistan, where we have more than 80 people. We enjoy very generous support of the US, our most important donor," said Lovrenčič.
It was former Slovenian Foreign Minister Boris Frlec and former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who agreed to form the ITF in 1998 in order to help Bosnia and Herzegovina implement the Dayton Peace Agreements.
Since then, the US has invested US$220m in projects managed by the ITF, matching the funds that Slovenia collected from other sources.
Following the ceremony, the Pahor opened an exhibition of photographs by acclaimed Slovenian photographers who have been following the ITF's work around the world. It will be on display at the Diplomacy Centre until Monday.
The president also visited the US Holocaust Memorial Museum today, meeting museum director Sara Bloomfield and Thomas Yazdgerdi, US special envoy for Holocaust issues.