STA, 13 July 2019 - The Slovenian minority in Italy marked on Saturday the 99th anniversary of the torching of the Narodni Dom (National Home) in Trieste, which had been considered a powerful symbolic gesture that dealt a severe blow to the community at the time of Fascism.
While the anniversary of the event is commemorated each year, this was the first time the main minority organisations, which often split along ideological lines, are organising it together.
Lending additional weight to the event, Slovenian President Borut Pahor, known for his efforts to bridge historical divides between Slovenia and Italy, delivered a speech.
Pahor expressed the wish that he would be joined by Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the centenary commemoration next year, highlighting the need for dialogue in particular in testing times.
"It is important we communicate contrasting positions tolerantly," Pahor said, noting that this was an opportunity to "strengthen the essence of the European idea," according to his office.
Addresses were also delivered by the heads of the minority organisations, Ksenija Dobrila of the Slovenian Cultural and Economic Union (SKGZ) and Walter Bandelj of the Council of Slovenian Organisations (SSO), as well as Trieste Mayor Roberto Dipiazza and Riccardo Riccardi, vice-president of the province Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and the historian Raoul Pupo.
Predsednik Pahor se je danes udeležil slovesnosti ob 99. letnici požiga Narodnega doma v Trstu, ki sta jo letos prvikrat skupaj pripravili obe krovni organizaciji Slovencev v Italiji, Slovenska kulturno-gospodarska zveza in Svet slovenskih organizacij. https://t.co/0u4NXCpxPb pic.twitter.com/yIeGg93Jxy— Borut Pahor (@BorutPahor) July 13, 2019
The president of the province, Massimiliano Fedriga, did not attend due to prior engagements but met Pahor prior to the event for talks that Pahor described as "productive". After the event, he held talks with the minority representatives.
Narodni Dom, designed by the famed architect Maks Fabiani and built in 1901-1904, used to be the minority's intellectual and cultural centre in Trieste and the home of numerous minority organisations as well as a theatre, bank, cafe and hotel.
As a symbol of Slovenia's presence in the once multicultural city, it was torched by the Fascists in 1920 and burnt to the ground.
The building was restored in 1988-1990 and now hosts a college, a department of the University of Trieste and a Slovenian information centre.
The minority has long been making efforts to get the building back and Pahor urged all stakeholders to do "everything they can to return life to the Narodni Dom".