Croatian Federation Reps Meet Slovenian Parliament Speaker

The delegation was led by the federation's president Đanino Kutnjak, joined by vice presidents Vladimir Pobežin and Mijo Stanko, and Ivan Botteri, a member of the Croatian Association of Ljubljana.

Dr Milan Brglez, the speaker of the parliament of neighbouring Slovenia, received a delegation on the 23rd of February of representatives of the Federation of Croatian Associations in Slovenia (www.shds.si) led by the federation's president Đanino Kutnjak. Also in the delegation were vice presidents Vladimir Pobežin and Mijo Stanko, and Ivan Botteri, a member of the Croatian Association of Ljubljana. Attending the meeting on behalf of the Slovenian parliament were the chairperson of the committee on relations with Slovenians in neighbouring countries and around the world Ivan Heršak, and representatives of the culture committee and of the information service of the Slovenian parliament.

There was little coverage to speak of in the Slovenian press of the meeting between the delegation of the Federation of Croatian Associations in Slovenia and Brglez, the speaker of Slovenian parliament. This truly rare event did, admittedly, garner a passing mention this Friday in some of the media, with the Slovenian state press agency even publishing a photo from the meeting. In the course of the working meeting there was an open exchange of opinions and considerations of the open possibilities for achieving more culture-related than political interests. It was certainly a more than welcome event at a time when relations between Croatia and neighbouring Slovenia can hardly be called good.

The discussion focused on open, but not on contentious issues. Federation of Croatian Associations in Slovenia president Kutnjak first and foremost expressed his dissatisfaction with the fact that the issue of the recognition of the status of the indigenous Croatian national minority has not been resolved. That this is a complex issue was confirmed by the Slovene parliament speaker Brglez, who expressed his willingness to encourage the Slovenian government's council on minorities to move forward in seeking suitable legal solutions that would improve conditions for the activities of Croatians and of other unrecognised ethnic groups in Slovenia.

It was said that the chairperson of the committee on relations with Slovenians in neighbouring countries and around the world Ivan Heršak would soon visit the ethnic Slovenian community in Croatia. This is one of the signs that the Slovenian side wishes to find out what reciprocity in terms of the conditions enjoyed by and the rights provided to ethnic communities would constitute. It is, namely, no secret that the Slovenian community in Croatia has achieved much better conditions than those enjoyed by the Croatian community in Slovenia.

The Slovenian participants of the meeting were pleasantly surprised by the example of good practices in the cross-border cooperation between the Slovenian Pomurje region and the Croatian Međimurje region, in which the Croatian, Hungarian and Slovenian minority communities play an active role. Speaker Brglez said that this was a praiseworthy example and should serve as a guide that needs legal support.

The meeting concluded that concrete methods and solutions should be left for consideration to the Slovenian parliament's committee on culture and the already cited Slovenian government council on minorities, with the already adopted declaration of the Slovenian parliament on the status of ethnic groups in the Republic of Slovenia to serve as a starting point.

After the meeting at the Slovenian parliament Kutnjak said he was happy that there had been a meeting, that the discussion had been frank and that a number of useful proposals had been tabled to create better conditions for the activity of Croatians within the parliamentary democracy system in Slovenia.

By: Ivan Botteri

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