Paris – President Borut Pahor bestowed the Golden Order of Merit, one of the highest Slovenian state decorations, on Czech-French writer Milan Kundera in Paris on Saturday. Kundera was honoured for having raised his voice for Slovenia’s independence and for his outstanding contribution to understanding turbulent times in Europe.
Since Kundera, 92, could not attend today’s ceremony, the decoration was accepted by Paris-based Slovenian photographer Evgen Bavčar, Pahor’s office said in a release.
It was Bavčar who had given the initiative for decorating Kundera, arguing that when Slovenia was attacked and isolated in 1991, Kundera spoke in favour of it in France.
Pahor announced that Kundera will receive the Golden Order of Merit in April 2019.
At the time, Bavčar said that Kundera had been acquainted in the 1990s with the situation in Slovenia by the Slovenian Writers’ Association and had written a piece to outline Slovenian cultural history stressing that “Slovenia must be saved and that it belongs to Western Europe”.
Today Bavčar thanked for the honour on behalf of the author and handed to Pahor a personal letter from Kundera and his wife.
Kundera, born in 1929 in the Czech Republic, went into exile in 1975, seven years after the Soviet invasion of the Czech Republic.
He never returned to his homeland, having been stripped of Czechoslovak citizenship in 1979, but granted French citizenship in the early 1980s.
Kundera started publishing books in 1953, has received a number of awards and has also been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature several times.
In 1992, he received the Vilenica Prize, which is given out to authors from Central Europe by Slovenia’s Vilenica International Literary Festival.