Ambassador Veronika Stabej and Permanent Representative Damjan Bergant visit Freyming-Merlebach on 2 April 2011
On Saturday, 2 April 2011, Ambassador Veronika Stabej and the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Slovenia to the Council of Europe, Damjan Bergant, paid a joint visit to the Slovenian community in Freyming-Merlebach, and met representatives of the French authorities.
The event was organised by the Jadran Mining Singing Society (the largest Slovenian society in France), and featured a diverse programme, including a visit to the Slovenian Catholic Mission and its chapel, a recital of Slovenian poetry and a performance of the Jadran Society mixed choir, which is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year.
Presidents of the St. Barbara, A.T.S.O., the Slovenian Catholic Mission and Friends of the Slovenian Catholic Mission societies also attended.
Other French representatives present at the event were Deputy Governor of Forbach Commune Sylvie Houspic, National Assembly member and Mayor of Freyming-Merlebach Pierre Lang, General Councillor of the Freyming-Merlebach Canton and Mayor of Farébersviller Laurent Kleinhentz, and numerous other local representatives.
On this occasion, a linden tree was planted in the city park named Door (representing the connection between the cities Freyming and Merlebach) to mark the 20th anniversary of Slovenian independence and as a symbol of the close friendship between Slovenia and France. The linden tree was the first of many to be planted in the Slovenian jubilee year.
The Embassy in Paris presented awards to the Jadran Society and its mixed choir for their 45 years of activity and contribution to preserving Slovenian identity in France.
In their address, Ambassador Stabej and Permanent Representative Bergant highlighted the importance of protecting Slovenian language, culture and wider identity, and welcomed all efforts by Slovenian societies in this regard. They stressed the significance of the close friendship between Slovenia and France, which is being further strengthened following the signing of the Strategic Partnership between the two countries. This opinion was shared by the distinguished French participants, who also underlined that the Slovenian community is characterised by remarkable diligence and successful integration into the local environment, while also preserving national identity and links to their country of origin.
The Embassy also organised office hours for consular affairs for the wider Slovenian community in the Lorraine region, where there are just over 1,200 Slovenian immigrants.