The Slovenia Times

Slovenia, Austria join forces for UNESCO listing of Lipizzan horses


The ministers signed a joint statement on a multinational bid to have the traditional Lipizzan breeding listed as UNESCO intangible heritage.

The initiative will also include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Romania and Slovakia. However, the Slovenian Culture Ministry will be the leading partner in preparing the nomination.

The bid is to be filed by March 2020, so that the listing could take place in 2021.

The nomination will focus on the traditional breeding and training methods that are used in the participating countries but will also reflect their diversity.

According to the ministry, Cerar and Kneissl also stressed the importance of the transfer of know-how, practices and research activities to the next generations.

Addressing the press after the meeting in Going am Wilden Kaiser, where Austrian Lipizzan horses are staying during the summer, Kneissl said that the breeding of Lipizzan horses "unites us" and that a joint UNESCO bid reflected the spirit of European cooperation.

Cerar said the Lipizzan horses were a "symbol of wisdom, beauty, energy, cooperation, faith and tradition" and that the joint bid reflected all that.

The issue of which country holds the Lipizzan genealogy records has been dragging for years and has also come up in Slovenia's EU accession talks after Austria protested against Slovenia's decision to protect the geographical origin of the breed.

The Slovenian stud farm that is home to the famed white Lipizzan horse, the farm in the village of Lipica - which lends its name to the horse - was established in 1580, although the history of horse breeding in the area goes back to antiquity.

Austria has claimed the Piber stud farm near Graz keeps the original genealogy records and the stud book for the breed as the original Lipizzan stud farm. The farm claims on its website to be "home to the famous Lipizzans" since 1920.

In 2013, six European Lipizzan stud farms started negotiating a joint nomination for the UNESCO list.

But in 2015, Austria submitted a solo bid to get the Spanish Riding School in Vienna listed as UNESCO World Heritage site with a claim the original stud farm for the breed is situated in Austria.

Such a bid would make it impossible for Slovenia and other stud farms to apply for the listing onto the intangible heritage list at a later stage, so Slovenia protested. A few months later, Austria backtracked on its claim.

Kneissl said today that the joint UNESCO bid complemented the intangible heritage of the Spanish Riding School.

According to the Slovenian Foreign Ministry, the talks on the joint nomination started in 2015 at the initiative of the Lipica and Piber stud farms. Later, the ministries of culture and foreign affairs of both countries took over.

Cerar and Kneissl also discussed the problems and demands of the Slovenian minority in Austria and the German-speaking community in Slovenia, with Cerar calling for dialogue with the German-speaking community and Kneissl for a new approach to their problems.

Cerar also reiterated Slovenia's position that there is no need for border controls on the Austrian-Slovenian border, a measure Austria extended last month due to migration.


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