Bologna – President Borut Pahor was awarded Sigillum Magnum, the highest recognition from the University of Bologna given to influential figures, in a special ceremony on Monday. Pahor thanked the university for the great honour and said he understood the silver-bronze medal as recognition of his efforts for dialogue, reconciliation and better future.
“I am deeply moved,” Pahor said at the ceremony as quoted by the president’s office, adding that the historical experience was usually the most difficult and complex in relations with the neighbouring countries.
Pahor added that one of the most emotional events of his political career was standing hand in hand with his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella in Basovizza last July in front of two memorials important for Slovenians and Italians.
The president noted that the two had also attended the signing of a memorandum on the transfer of the ownership of the Trieste National Hall to the Slovenian minority in Italy, on the 100th anniversary of its arson by the Fascists.
Pahor also pointed to the ceremony on the 100th anniversary of the Carinthian plebiscite, which he attended with Austrian counterpart Alexander Van der Bellen, who apologised to the Slovenian minority for delays in the implementation of minority rights.
“Rarely a politician has the opportunity to put heart and soul first. And we must not miss these opportunities; if we do, then this cannot be compensated for,” the Slovenian president said.
The university said that Pahor had deserved the Sigillum Magnum, handed over by University of Bologna Chancellor Francesco Ubertini, for his efforts for dialogue between nations and countries and his dedication to the fundamental European values.
The recipients of the highest decoration by the oldest university in the world include Mattarella, former European Commission presidents Romano Prodi and Jean-Claude Juncker, former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis.
On Sunday, Pahor addressed a meeting of the G20 Interfaith Forum in Bologna, and on Saturday he attended a ceremony remembering victims killed during prayer in churches, held in Santo Stefano Basilica by Bologna Archbishop Matteo Zuppi.