The Slovenia Times

Slovenia celebrates Primorska reunification day


Koper/Portorož - Slovenia observes today the Return of Primorska to the Motherland, a public holiday in memory of the day in 1947 when this western region was reunited with Slovenia after being under Italian rule since the end of WWI.

On 15 September 1947, the Paris Peace Treaty was implemented setting the post-war border between Yugoslavia and Italy. However, the final seal of approval came only in 1975 with the Treaty of Osimo, which entered into force two years later.

Post-WWI Italy occupied large swathes of land in present-day Slovenia and Croatia. And while most of the land was allocated to Yugoslavia with the Paris treaty, most notably Istria and Dalmatian islands, the new border left thousands of ethnic Slovenians in Italy, mostly in and around Trieste.

Around 140,000 ethnic Slovenians at the time lived in the area that is now part of Italy, whereas an estimated 200,000-300,000 Italians left territories that were given to Yugoslavia, according to the findings of a Slovenian-Italian commission of historians released in 2000.

The holiday, which is not a work-free day, is celebrated every year but a state-sponsored ceremony is held only every five years. This year it took place in Portorož on Wednesday evening with National Assembly Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič as the keynote speaker, while President Borut Pahor inspected an echelon of flag bearers.

The speaker praised the Primorska people for their anti-fascism, uprightness and unity as they massively joined the resistance movement when Italy invaded the Kingdom of Yugoslavia during World War II.

She noted that many Slovenians remained on the Italian side of the border, and the efforts to preserve the Slovenian language and culture there and bringing attention to the minority's rights.

Linking the past to the present, she said: "We experienced how fragile freedom is first-hand not so long ago, when Slovenia began to slide into autocracy and experienced unconstitutional violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms," the rights she said people of Primorska too had sacrificed their lives for.

In his written message, PM Robert Golob said on Thursday that Slovenian citizens remembered the reunification with pride and humility towards our ancestors, while the locals' efforts to build a bright future after WWII also called for reflecting on "the legacy we leave to future generations".

Preserving Slovenian identity was anything but easy, but Golob said that Primorska had exuded determination and "an unwavering love for the Slovenian nation".

Looking ahead, he said "today, we are also spreading the culture of respect, embedded in the identity of the Primorska and Primorska people, into politics".

President Borut Pahor meanwhile said as he hosted the open house day at Presidential Palace on the occasion that "three quarters of a century have passed since the resistance against fascism and the Partisan fight brought us back to our common homeland, after we were pushed outside of our mother nation against our will after WWI".

He stressed that the people of Primorska and Slovenia were now living in the best time of their history, "we have our own country and are masters of our own destiny, we are members of the EU, and we are firmly established as a sovereign country in the Western world through our membership of NATO".

Pahor also highlighted the noble message of the informal Primorska anthem, Primorska Rising. "This is a song that sums up the more than 75-year tradition of struggle and respect for those who gave their lives so that we could live a peaceful and free life."


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