Innovation and cooperation were the main themes as the Embassy of Slovenia in Israel celebrated Slovenia’s national day with a reception at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Jaffa. Ambassador of Slovenia H.E. Barbara Sušnik hosted the celebration, which coincided with a business delegation visiting from Slovenia, led by the deputy foreign minister, Mr. Dobran Božič.
The weather and view overlooking the sea in Jaffa set a perfect backdrop, while floral arrangements in the Slovenian colors and live music performed by Israeli and Slovenian musicians added to the ambiance. Deputy Foreign Minister Dobran Božič headed a Slovenian business delegation, who met earlier in the day with Israeli entrepreneurial peers for presentations and networking.
Ambassador Sušnik expressed her pleasure at seeing so many friends from the two countries, and in particular at the presence of the delegation for the first Israel-Slovenia business forum. The ambassador noted also the visit by the president of the Slovenian Parliament two years ago, as further evidence of the growing ties between the two countries.
The ambassador noted that although Slovenia is a young country, it is already playing a leading role in protecting human rights; promoting gender equality, as well as being a hub for innovation, like Israel. She emphasized that Slovenia remains committed to fighting anti-Semitism along with all forms of extremism, racism, and intolerance.
The ambassador closed her remarks by speaking in Hebrew, telling the guests that she was not concluding her term as ambassador to Israel, and would soon be leaving. She thanked her colleagues and the embassy staff, and everyone who helped to forge stronger ties between Israel and Slovenia.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mr. Dobran Božič spoke next, expressing his happiness to be in Israel, and to be representing Slovenia. The deputy minister noted Slovenia’s success in the last three decades and the opportunities for further cooperation with Israel. He said that he had heard from Israelis that innovation requires courage and intellectual capacity, and he added market need as an additional key factor. Noting that both countries have each of these factors, he reiterated the hope for continued economic cooperation and wished all the guests well.
Minister of Justice Mr. Amir Ohana spoke on behalf of the Israeli government. The minister noted the many similarities between the two countries, from geographical size, or shared values of freedom, democracy, and the respect for law, order and human rights. He noted, in particular, the Israeli trade entering Europe through Slovenia’s Port of Koper, as well as growing Israeli tourism to Slovenia.
Minister Ohana noted that all of the bilateral cooperation comes despite Israel not yet have an embassy in Slovenia due to budgetary limitations, and expressed his hope that the situation would be rectified soon. He concluded his remarks by thanking Ambassador Sušnik for promoting and deepening the friendship between Israel and Slovenia and offering best wishes to the government and people of Slovenia on their national day.
After hearing the national anthems of both countries, a toast was held to continued success and cooperation. Jewish Slovenian actor and singer Polona Vetrih di Stefani then took the stage and sang English and Slovenian renditions of the national anthems for Slovenia and Israel.
Steven Aiello, founder of the Debate for Peace MUN program (debateforpeace.wordpress.com)
Photos by Silvia G Golan