President calls for culture of dialogue on Culture Day

Ljubljana – President Borut Pahor hosted the annual Culture Day event in Presidential Palace on Monday, receiving this year’s Prešeren Prize and Prešeren Fund Prize recipients. Pahor called for culture of dialogue. Author Feri Lainšček, one of the laureates, meanwhile highlighted the role Slovenian culture played in the country’s independence efforts.

The state of culture of dialogue depends on every individual, said Pahor, warning of the rise of “careless or unkind” speech.

Expressing one’s views in a decent, dignified and responsible manner leads to feelings of respect and inclusion and protects us from verbal or physical violence, Pahor said.

Meanwhile, Žirovnica Mayor Leopold Pogačar also called for culture of dialogue. The Žirovnica municipality in the north includes the village of Vrba where poet France Prešeren, whose death anniversary is honoured today, was born.

Pogačar added that politicians and other officials should be role models for citizens. The mayor is pleased to see that his appeal has been shared and supported by not only other municipalities but also Pahor and Prime Minister Janez Janša’s offices.

Politicians should be particularly aware of the importance of culture of dialogue due to their influence on public discourse, noted Pahor, addressing today’s event in Presidential Palace, which heeded all precautionary measures.

The authorities should communicate in a transparent way, whereas media should use critical thinking in their reporting, he added.

All these patterns could not always be regulated by rules but by culture of dialogue, he said, describing the latter concept as a fusion of rights and responsibilities.

In the current health crisis it is all the more important to be careful when speaking out, the president said. “If solidarity, tolerance, mutual respect and understanding prevail in public discourse as well, the crisis will be tackled sooner and with greater ease,” he said, evoking these values with the help of the Slovenian anthem and other works by Prešeren.

Speaking on behalf of all the recipients, Lainšček, one of this year’s two recipients of the Prešeren Prize for lifetime achievement, meanwhile said that the Slovenian language and culture played a vital part in the formation and survival of the Slovenian nation. Hence, both have been lying at the heart of Slovenia’s statehood since the country’s independence.

The event has been also attended by architect Marko Mušič, the other recipient of the top national lifetime achievement award, and a number of this year’s Prešeren Fund Prize recipients, poet Brane Senegačnik and architects Blaž Budja, Rok Jereb and Nina Majoranc.

Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti and Jožef Muhovič, who chairs the Prešeren Fund board, were also in attendance.

Pahor laid a wreath at the France Prešeren monument in central Ljubljana this morning along with Simoniti and in the presence of all the above-mentioned guests. Another wreath will be laid by the minister alone at the poet’s grave in Kranj later in the afternoon along with the town’s deputy mayor Janez Černe.

Simoniti thanked this year’s laureates for their contribution to Slovenian culture and art and congratulated them for their accomplishments, the ministry said in a press release.

Slovenian Ambassador to Croatia Vojislav Šuc announced today that Slovenia will put up a monument to honour Prešeren in park Bundek in the Croatian capital in the summer.

The embassy has been working with the Zagreb-based Slovenski Dom cultural association on the preparations to unveil the monument, Šuc said on Twitter, adding that the project will further strengthen cultural ties between Slovenia and Croatia and mark the 30th anniversary of Slovenia’s independence as well as the start of the country’s EU presidency spell.

The Slovenian ethnic communities in Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia have been celebrating Culture Day in the virtual realm as has been the Slovenian Foreign Ministry, highlighting the role of culture in Slovenia’s independence efforts and its international status.

Meanwhile, the Slovenian embassy in Buenos Aires had urged ambassadors in Argentina’s capital and Santiago de Chile to read Slovenia’s anthem Zdravljica (A Toast) out loud in their languages. The embassy released today interpretations by 18 ambassadors on its social media.

The Slovenian embassy in Paris marked Culture Day on social media by posting virtual readings of passages from books by Slovenian authors in the French language. Since the start of the pandemic, five books by Slovenian authors have been released in France, said the embassy.