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Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Italian President Sergio Mattarella visited the two towns to jointly become the European Capital of Culture in 2025

Nova Gorica, Gorizia, 22. 10. 2021 | press release

Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Italian President Sergio Mattarella visited the two towns to jointly become the European Capital of Culture in 2025 under the name "Two Gorizias – One City" and the slogan "Go! Borderless".

Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Italian President Sergio Mattarella visited the two towns to jointly become the European Capital of Culture in 2025
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Yesterday, the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor met the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, in Nova Gorica, Slovenia, and Gorizia, Italy. The joint visit of the presidents of the two countries to Nova Gorica and Gorizia confirmed their commitment towards the ECOC project – European Capitals of Culture GO! Borderless 2025, which shows the connection between the two border towns and offers an innovative model of coexistence and cooperation. The presidents visited Nova Gorica and Gorizia to welcome the ECOC 2025 project as a symbol of integration, understanding and tolerance, representing a Europe without borders.

Borut Pahor, President of the Republic of Slovenia, holded an official meeting with Sergio Mattarella, President of the Italian Republic, in Slovenian Nova Gorica and Italian Gorizia. The joint official visit by the heads of state of both countries further enhanced the commitment to the European Capital of Culture (ECC) project, GO! Borderless 2025, which testifies to the integration of both border towns and showcases an innovative model of harmony and cooperation. When visiting Nova Gorica and Gorizia, the presidents commended the ECC 2025 as a symbol of integration, understanding and tolerance that illustrates the potential of a Europe without borders.

Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Italian President Sergio Mattarella visited the two towns to jointly become the European Capital of Culture in 2025
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

In their joint congratulations in December 2020, Presidents Pahor and Mattarella commended the decision that Nova Gorica together with Gorizia will become the European Capital of Culture in 2025. On the occasion of their meeting on 14 April 2021 in Rome, the presidents stated that they would take over the honorary patronage of the European Capital of Culture project and agreed to visit Nova Gorica and Gorizia together in autumn to support the project.

The official reception of the President of the Italian Republic with military honours at Bevkov trg Square in Nova Gorica was followed by a bilateral meeting of both presidents. The presidents then met with the representatives of the Slovenian national community in Italy and the Italian community in Slovenia. The programme of the visit included a viewing of the Solkan footbridge, a new bridge between the embankments of the Soča River and both countries, and a visit to an exhibition marking the 140th anniversary of the Trieste newspaper Il Piccolo in Gorizia, where President Mattarella officially received President Pahor with military honours.

Presidents Pahor and Mattarella then attended the central ceremony at Europe Square, which connects both towns, and where both were keynote speakers. Soloists from Slovenia and Italy, the GO! Borderless orchestra and choir from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia Music Society and the Piccolo Opera Festival performed in the music programme. The VocinVolo Children’s Choir from Udine and Singgirls Youth Choir from Šempeter-Vrtojba also performed.

During their visit, President Pahor confered upon President Mattarella the highest Slovenian state decoration, the Order for Exceptional Services.

Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Italian President Sergio Mattarella visited the two towns to jointly become the European Capital of Culture in 2025
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Italian President Sergio Mattarella visited the two towns to jointly become the European Capital of Culture in 2025
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Speech by President Pahor at the ceremony in Europe Square (Spoken word applies.)

Dear Mister President and Friend, Dear Sergio,
Esteemed Mayors of Both Towns, Gorizia and Nova Gorica,
Slovenians, Italians, Europeans, Dear Friends.

I am utterly overcome by todays event, filled with the most precious and noble of emotions.
Overcome by this meeting, which is full of hope, trust and sincere belief in our better common future.

Dear Sergio,

Last year, we turned towards our painful past hand in hand at Basovizza and Trieste.
For me, our handshake was the most exciting and emotional moment in my entire political career.

It combined everything I believe in: peace, reconciliation, harmony, friendship, good neighbourly relations, dialogue, cooperation and a joint European spirit.

We stood there without speaking a word and yet we uttered everything.

Later, we witnessed the signing of the memorandum on the return of the National Hall in Trieste to the Slovenian national community.
More than a year later, I can happily confirm that the Italian Government enacted this return, making it formal and final.

This is a great, monumental, once-in-a century moment, not only for Slovenians, but also for Italians and all Europeans.

Dear Sergio,

Last year, we turned towards our painful past, but today we are looking forward to our glorious future.
No aspect of this happy future could be more Slovenian-Italian and European than the joint project of Gorizia and Nova Gorica coming together as one European Capital of Culture 2025.

I congratulate both mayors, both town councils and especially the citizens of Gorizia and Nova Gorica, which in the light of this marvellous cultural European project are becoming one urban entity, one city.

The beauty and uniqueness of this unparalleled historic development lies in the fact that it features the coexistence of two cultures, two languages, the harmony of two traditions, the understanding of two pasts, and simultaneously a developing joint future based on everything that connects the people of Nova Gorica and Gorizia as Europeans.

Nothing great happens overnight and without our indomitable will.

We have been given a unique historic opportunity to create, as naturally as possible within the European Union, with the determination of leaders and by the will of the people, a joint city of coexistence where all differences are respected, and which builds on everything that unites us.
I would like for us to truly understand this opportunity and responsibility.

Honestly speaking, we are not living in times when this is self-evident.
In this day and age, there is divergence and division creating a gap between people.
For this reason alone, we must take advantage of this European Capital of Culture 2025 project and everything it and this joint Europe have to offer now and in the future.

Slovenians and Italians and everyone living here,

let us seize this unique historic opportunity and develop it according to our sovereign will in dialogue and mutual respect.

Let us stand against the policy of imposed division and divergence, which can deprive our children of something so beautiful and hopeful.

With our tolerant but decisive action, we should set an example and inspire everyone who believes in the fundamental European values, lasting peace, cooperation and friendship.

The peaceful and safe future of our children will be our greatest satisfaction.