Slovenian-British Blossoming Relationship

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Kulturkampf goes to London Early in the month, the British-Slovene Society, led by Keith Miles (see his column on page 4), held a well-attended annual dinner that traditionally carries the name of Slovenia’s the most famous poet, France Preseren. This year the event received a fair share of negative publicity when one of the society’s members publicly expressed her outrage – through the weekly magazine, Mladina – that the main theme of the evening, as she (mis)interpreted it to be from the invitation, was to be the 60th anniversary of the escape of the anti-communist refugees from Slovenia. So what… even if marking the anniversary was the real intention? It is a matter of fact that the most traumatic period in Slovene-British relations are the events immediately after the end of the Second World War, when the British army in Carinthia repatriated the majority of anti-communist and German collaborating Domobranci (Home Guards) straight back into the arms of the waiting Slovenian partisans who eventually executed most of them early in the summer of 1945. Commemorating such a dramatic turn of events should be welcomed regardless of the ideological bias, especially in the context of Preseren as the unifying figure for the nation. In the end, the event proved to be a rather pleasant and cultural gathering of Brits and Slovenians, with the highlight being a performance by a Slovene Londoner, Aleksander Mezek, who put to music one of Preseren’s most famous pieces, Vrba. New consulate in Edinburgh On 23rd March, the Slovenian Ambassador to the UK, Iztok Mirosic, opened a Slovenian Consulate in Scotland, which is a positive step towards increasing economic ties between Slovenia and the northern regions of the UK. The consulate will be headed by Ana Wersun, who is the spouse of Alec Wersun, one of the organisers of the Burns-Preseren evening in Ljubljana. On the occasion, Mr Mirosic met with the prime minister of Scotland, Jack McConnell, the president of the Scottish parliament, George Reid, the mayor of Edinburgh, Lesley Hinds, and other guests from the realm of politics and business. In light of these events, the ambitious plans of the recently arrived Slovenian ambassador as well as the UK’s presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2005, the momentum for strengthening political and economic ties between the two countries is definitely building. We can only hope that past disagreements between Mirosic and Slovenia’s Foreign Minister, Dimitrij Rupel, will not spoil the fun.