Udine – President Borut Pahor visited the Slovenian ethnic minority in Italy’s province Udine on Friday as the 34th festival of folk songs from Benečija area opened in the Grimacco/Garmak municipality. In his address, he stressed the role of co-existence and the common European homeland, to which the Slovenian and Italian nations belong.
Pahor also thanked the minority for loyalty and dedication to the Slovenian language, culture, tradition and everything that makes them Slovenian, his office said on Friday.
The minority’s representatives outlined to Pahor the challenges its members face, as they met at the Rečan – Aldo Klodič Culture Association before the festival.
Together, they recalled some of the important recent achievements in promoting their rights, highlighting the return of the National Hall in Trieste into the hands of the minority as a historic achievement.
The meeting was attended by representatives of both minority umbrella organisations, Italian Senator of Slovenian descent Tatjana Rojc and associations from the Udine province, one of three provinces in the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia where the Slovenian minority lives.
I Dream Benečija Songs is a three-day festival that makes an important contribution to the preservation of local dialects and the development of music in Udine.
It was first organised in 1971, initially as the Celebration of Songs from Benečija; Benečija is the Slovenian for the area populated by the minority in Italy that used to be under Venetian rule rather than Habsburg rule.
Yesterday’s opening event featured a performance by the children of the Pavel Petričič public school with bilingual classes in San Pietro al Natisone.
Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitsch also attended the opening event and met the minority representatives.
Slovenians are an autochthonous ethnic community in Italy, and Italian law defines them as a language minority.
There are an estimated 80,000 members living in the provinces of Udine, Trieste and Gorizia. Most of the Slovenians in Udine have been part of Italy since 1866.