The Slovenia Times

Slovenia-Russia Friendship Praised at Traditional Russian Chapel Ceremony


Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek opened the traditional ceremony by highlighting mutual respect, solidarity and trust enjoyed by the two countries.

"Slovenia regards highly the partnership between the countries both in politics and economy as well as in culture, science, education and sports," Bratušek said.

Russia is one of Slovenia's most important economic partners, Bratušek said, pointing to the construction of the South Stream pipeline which she said represented a great opportunity for the development of Slovenia's economy. She also stressed she would continue to support and nurture friendship and strategic ties between the countries

The annual ceremony at the Russian Chapel is a celebration of friendship between the nations, said Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec as he delivered the keynote speech. He stressed that the "future of Slovenian-Russian relations is full of optimism and opportunity for both nations" and a "symbol of peace, harmony and cooperation between the two Slavic nations."

A number of prominent Slovenians and Russians attend the ceremony today. "The Russian Chapel brings us together in the hope that the atrocities of the 20th century never happen again and that we will never be drawn into war against one another," said Anton Bebler, a member of Slovenia-Russia Association.

"The unique history of this humble chapel in the Slovenian Alps shows that this place of past tragedy can become a place that brings nations together. It can become a place to remind us all that we must never stop trying to prevent the tragic events of the world wars of the 20th century from happening ever again," said Vice-President of Russian Federation Council Yuri Vorobyev.

Today's ceremony, held for the 21st time, was attended by a number politicians, diplomats and business executives, including President Borut Pahor, Parliament Speaker Janko Veber and National Council President Mitja Bervar. Religious dignitaries also attended, including Archbishop Yevgeny of Vereya, the head of Russian Orthodox Church Education Committee, and Celje Bishop Stanislav Lipovšek.

A Russian delegation, consisting of representatives of Russia's upper and lower chambers of parliament, was also on hand. As part of the visit, an agreement on cooperation between the Slovenian and Russian upper chambers of parliament was signed yesterday, while on Monday, Erjavec is to receive Russian Minister of Communications and Mass Media Nikolay Nikiforov.

The ceremony is traditionally held in late July at the picturesque wooden chapel built by Russian POWs in 1916 after more than 300 of their comrades were killed in an avalanche while building the road over the Vršič mountain pass.

The chapel is considered a symbol of friendship between Slovenia and Russia and the annual memorial service has long been a nexus for forging political and business ties.


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