The Slovenia Times

95 Years after Carinthian Plebiscite, Governor Sees Positive Developments


95 years on, Carinthian Governor Peter Kaiser has a positive outlook on relations within Carinthia - and with Slovenia.

The atmosphere in the Austrian province of Carinthia is finally more relaxed. "History has taught us much. There are many more links that bring us together," Kaiser told the STA in an interview.

Kaiser notes that the agreement to set up bilingual road signs in the province, which was reached in the time of his predecessor Gerhard Dörfler, "untangled a large problem".

This, among other compromises, paved the way to a healthier and more productive dialogue between Slovenia and Carinthia.

Conversely, he expects the improvement in Carinthia to have a positive impact on a small German-speaking community in Slovenia known as the Gottschee.

"Meeting the commitments of the Austrian State Treaty and actively improving the current situation will have a positive influence on the German-speaking Slovenian community, which is an important historical question for us," said Kaiser.

Slovenia-Carinthia cooperation is quite dynamic. One of the largest current projects between Ljubljana and Klagenfurt is the second tube for the Karavanke border tunnel. Kaiser expects that the tube will be opened in 2022 or 2023.

There are several possibilities for further cooperation, especially on the local level. One such project is Geopark, a UNESCO-listed geological park along the Slovenian-Austrian border.

There have also been discussions on strengthening cooperation between the theatres in Klagenfurt, Ljubljana and Italy's Trieste, as well as cooperation in the field of security and protection against natural disasters.

Next Thursday, Carinthia coalition parties will hold a discussion on reforming the Carinthian provincial constitution to eliminate the proportional election system.

A draft circulated in Austrian media suggests that Carinthia would strive for "greater linguistic and cultural diversity" and that the province as well as municipalities will treat equally "both German- and Slovenian-speaking citizens".

Kaiser says that his People's Party is willing to back the wording explicitly mentioning the Slovenian community.

This year's celebration of the plebiscite's anniversary in Klagenfurt will be held under the slogan "Knowing more about one's own history is the key to a better future". The Slovenian community will actively contribute to the organisation of the celebration.


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