President Borut Pahor bestows award on the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts

Ljubljana, 5. 11. 2013 | press release

The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, has awarded the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) with the Order for Exceptional Services on its 75th anniversary for its contribution to promoting and accelerating science and the arts.

The award was received at a special ceremony on behalf of the Academy by academician Dr Jože Trontelj, who in the presence and on behalf of SAZU members thanked the President for the honour expressed by this highest award for the Academy on its 75th anniversary.

In his speech of thanks, Dr Trontelj emphasised that academies have a national role, while the awarding of the Order was an opportunity that "we ourselves, or others, may ask whether we have been performing our national role decently and successfully". He expressed his belief that SAZU has deserving and creative members in many areas of science and added that the Academy was also the home of the noble arts.

Among the key tasks of the Academy, Dr Trontelj highlighted care for the mother tongue and its proper use, usage books and dictionaries, and the study and protection of the cultural and natural heritage of the nation, which is of vital importance for national identity and for studying Slovenian literature and achievements in other arts. He stressed that the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts is also committed to freedom, independence and excellence in science and stresses the importance of basic research together with the need to implement scientific achievements in practical life.

According to Dr Trontelj, the Academy, in collaboration with other European academies, is dedicated to the teaching of science and humanities in secondary schools. Attention is also given to the problems of environmental protection and sustainable development at both the local and global levels. The Academy further responds to moral distress and the byways of our age by "supporting education in the ethical values of children and youth".

In his speech of thanks, Dr Trontelj said that SAZU, despite the high average age of its membership, is still vital and in many ways present in public life, and that its members are not burdened by conflicts of interests. "Regarding the future, despite the present crisis, we are not pessimistic," said Dr Trontelj, adding that the activities of SAZU members is well accepted among the general public, for which he thanked the Slovenian nation and the state leadership.

Award justification:

The Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts was founded just before World War II, in 1938. Its first general meeting was attended by the first eighteen Slovenian academics, who selected three candidates for President of the Academy. The king appointed the Slovenist Rajko Nahtigal. The Academy’s establishment marked the end of long-standing endeavours on the part of Slovenian intellectuals for Slovenian sciences and arts to also get an institution at the highest level to further promote the value of knowledge and education, this to be achieved through its authority and reputation. Academia Operosorum, established in 1693 and the predecessor of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, failed to establish this tradition owing to its short existence.
During the war, the Academy neither organised solemn assemblies nor accepted new members. After the war, it adopted the institute system, but already in the 50s the institutes had generally gained their independence. In the performance of its managerial function and appointment of members, the Academy had to submit to the control of the national government, which eliminated those who were not compliant with official political beliefs. The moral debt to these members was settled in 1996, when three of them were rehabilitated and returned their rights of honour, while the fourth had the moral debt settled by a special statement in 2003.

In independent Slovenia, the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts was granted the status of the highest scientific and artistic institution in the country and ensured its autonomy of action. The independent state further determined its relationship with the Scientific Research Centre of the Academy through the research programme of the Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Slovenian Nation.

Today the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts is fully dedicated to promoting science and the arts. The number of its symposiums at the national and international levels has increased. Currently topical themes are being addressed at expert consultation sessions, and the members of the Academy frequently participate in consultations in other institutions, particularly in the fields of physics, chemistry, and technical and medical sciences. Also worth mentioning are the Academy’s publishing achievements – as to their quality and quantity, they are at the level of previous years or even greater. Equally noteworthy is its international activity, as it implements contracts on scientific cooperation with 38 foreign academies.

The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, has awarded the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) with the Order for Exceptional Services on its 75th anniversary for its contribution to promoting and accelerating science and the arts.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, has awarded the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) with the Order for Exceptional Services on its 75th anniversary for its contribution to promoting and accelerating science and the arts.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA