Vinica – President Borut Pahor and UK Ambassador to Slovenia Tiffany Sadler marked Slovenia-UK Friendship Day on Thursday in Gornji Suhor, a village in south-eastern Slovenia where a British bomber crashed in March 1945 while locals and Slovenian Partisans helped save some of the crew. The pair also spoke about the war in Ukraine.
Pahor, Sadler and Črnomelj Mayor Andrej Kavšek stressed the role of mutual friendship which was made in the most difficult moments as they addressed the event.
They also touched on the war in Ukraine saying that while it had brought a lot of suffering it had also brought a lot of compassion and solidarity.
Now that the world is faced with a war in Europe like it was 80 years ago, it is obvious “how important it is to always stand up for the right cause, for one’s own freedom”, said Pahor.
Stressing that Russia had invaded Ukraine without a reason or cause, he underscored the need for sanctions against Russia and the wish for reason to prevail to end the war and resolve all open issues between Russia and Ukraine in a peaceful manner.
Ambassador Sadler said that both Great Britain and Slovenia condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions while they also did what they could to disable Russia, from sanctions and initiatives within the International Criminal Court to defence ties within NATO.
Values are another thing that unites Britain and Slovenia, she said, pointing to “compassion for Ukrainian people, as residents of Slovenia and Great Britain have opened their homes and hearts to Ukrainian refugees”.
A letter by Keith Miles, Slovenia’s first official representatives in the UK, was also read at the commemoration.
Earlier in the day Pahor decorated Miles with the Order of Merit for his personal contribution to Slovenia’s international recognition and for his merit in establishing, developing and strengthening Slovenia-UK relations. Miles could not attend either event because of an illness.
Pahor and Sadler laid wreaths at the plaque to the nine members of the crew of the British aircraft, which crashed on 31 March 1945.
The B-24 Liberator bomber was a part of the allied attack on the transport infrastructure in Graz, Austria. It was hit by the German forces, suffering the fatal blow to the fuel tank somewhere over the city of Celje.
As the plane turned into a flying torch, only enough time was left for five crew members to parachute themselves before the plane crashed. Of the five who managed to jump from the plane, one was seriously injured and died later at a Partisan hospital.
The other four were taken to safety by the local Partisans and were flown back to their base two days later. The five casualties received a Catholic funeral in the village of Vojna Vas.
The first Slovenia-UK Friendship Day was marked in May 2019.