The Slovenia Times

From independence figures to punk rockers, president awards a set of state honours

President Nataša Pirc Musar awards state decorations ahead of Independence and Unity Day. Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Individuals and organisations active in defence, minority representation, music, sport and science were honoured as President Nataša Pirc Musar handed out the first state decorations of her term on 22 December, including the intelligence agency SOVA, Civil Protection commander Srečko Šestan, punk rockers Pankrti and footballer Marcos Tavares.

The recipients have co-shaped Slovenia's national identity, prosperity and reputation in the world through their outstanding work. "The decorations are therefore not only a recognition of your outstanding achievements, they are also an encouragement to continue your dedicated work and an invitation to others to follow your example of excellence," Pirc Musar told the award ceremony at Brdo Castle.

Honours for two independence figures

Just days before Slovenia marks Independence and Unity Day on 26 December in memory of the 1990 plebiscite in which Slovenians voted overwhelmingly for independence, the president decorated two figures posthumously for their efforts associated with that time.

The late Borut Novak was honoured with the Order of Freedom for his outstanding services in the defence of freedom and in the efforts to cement Slovenia's sovereignty.

Novak was actively involved in the preparation and implementation of the armed independence efforts in 1989-1991. He later held several high-level posts in the Novo Mesto area, including serving as the local police chief.

The late social democrat politician Miran Potrč was honoured with the Golden Order of Merit for his outstanding contribution to Slovenia's independence efforts and for his responsible and principled political stance.

He served as a delegate in the assembly of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia, working on the legal foundation for Slovenia's independence, the first multiparty election and the drafting of the constitution.

Achievements in healthcare, civil protection

Also honoured with the Golden Order of Merit was the UKC Ljubljana Gynaecological and Obstetrics Department, which marked its centenary this year. The accomplishment in focus was the extraordinary development of gynaecology and obstetrics and the reputation Slovenian experts in this field enjoy abroad.

The intelligence and security agency SOVA received the Silver Order of Merit for outstanding service in security, defence and protection of Slovenia, and for excellent international cooperation.

The president also honoured with the Order of Merit six individuals or organisations, including Civil Protection commander Šestan, Bojan Mohar, a Slovenian and Canadian mathematician working in graph theory, and Maja Primic Žakelj, a pioneer in the development of cervical cancer screening programme ZORA.

Šestan, a man who has been providing reassurance to Slovenians at the hardest of times, was honoured for his outstanding contribution to the selfless and effective response to various natural disasters, and for providing inspiration to the many people who, because of his example, are willing to take part in civil protection and rescue efforts.

Recognition for sports

The Order of Merit also went to the Slovenian Ski Association, which celebrated its 100th birthday this year and has played an important role in Slovenia's winter sports achievements.

Twelve individuals and organisations active in healthcare, minority representation, music, sport and science received Medals of Merit, including retired Brazilian-born footballer Marcos Tavares, who left an indelible mark on Slovenian football during his 15 seasons with club Maribor.

Tavares, who lives in Slovenia and is a Slovenian citizen, was praised for his inspiring sporting achievements, his role in raising Slovenia's profile in the world and for promoting solidarity and charity. He is the all-time top goalscorer of Slovenian first-tier club division and Slovenia's all-time top scorer in European club championships.

The members of Slovenian minorities in neighbouring countries who were honoured for their contribution to Slovenian culture, education and efforts to strengthen ties with the homeland are Peter Gstettner, a member of the Slovenian community in Austria, Metka Lajnšček, Karel Holec, Erika Köleš Kiss and Andrea Kovač, who work among the Slovenian minority in Hungary, and Samo Pahor, who was honoured for his work for the preservation of Slovenian language and the minority's rights in Italy.

Medals for artists

The president also decorated the music bands Kameleoni, Pankrti and Laibach, and Marjetica Potrč, an internationally acclaimed artist and architect. Potrč was honoured for decades of work in the field of art, anthropology and ecology, in which she collaborates with indigenous peoples, nature guardians and environmentalists to create new "hybrid knowledge".

Pankrti, the "first punk rock band behind the Iron Curtain" blazed a trail, to begin with by giving diagnosis that "Lublana je bulana" (Ljubljana is sick), the president's office said in reference to their hit "Lublana bulana", which was recorded as a single in Italy's Gorizia in 1978. With their provocative and political lyrics and music, the band reflected the aspirations for a better and fairer society.

This was the first time Pirc Musar handed out state decorations since she assumed office a year ago. She honoured a total of 22 individuals and organisations in a presidential decree issued on 1 December. This time she handed out 19 of the decorations with three more honourees, including Laibach and Mohar, to receive them in the new year.


More from Politics