Message by Prime Minister Janez Janša on the Day of the Unification of the Prekmurje Slovenes with the Mother Nation, 17 August 2021
Prekmurje in the heart
"Again I hear the song amid the plains", says a line in the poem by Feri Lainšček, which we read in the middle of the wonderful Prekmurje landscape which is so special, dreamlike and beautiful. A landscape that makes the poet's soul sing and sets his heart to play. It is not only the poet who feels this way but also all the people of Prekmurje, who were cut off from the Slovenian homeland for nearly 900 years. Given this historical fact it is almost unbelievable that throughout those nine long centuries, and under the influence of other nations they preserved the Slovenian language, Slovenian culture and the ideas of a unified state and of Slovenian identity. That they have stood up and remained Slovenians.
It is therefore understandable that more than hundred years ago in Beltinci the crowd was overwhelmed with joy and enthusiastically welcomed the final act of unification of the Prekmurje Slovenes with the mother nation. But not all stories have such a happy ending. Thank God for the national consciousness of the generations of the Prekmurje people who have passed on their love towards their nation, the Slovenian language and the Prekmurje dialect, their second mother tongue, from one generation to the next, so that they could finally set sail for their home port after centuries of stormy seas and thunderclouds.
Today, when we look back to that fateful time one hundred years ago, we might not fully realise the importance of the decision made at the Paris Peace Conference to return the Prekmurje territory to the motherland. But what we know for certain is that throughout history, we have lost too much Slovenian land and that too many Slovenians have remained outside the borders of the homeland and did not have the good fortune to see unification or to remain unified with their mother nation.
Therefore, the decision to celebrate 17 August as a national holiday is not only the expression of joy and gratitude for the fulfilment of the wish of the Prekmurje people for the unification with their mother nation but is also an expression of gratitude to all those who gave body and soul to make these centuries-old longings come true.
As many times before, today's celebration will not only be marked by gratitude but also by the awareness of the importance of love for our nation. The wish to belong to a community to which we are bound by the heart and the ties of our parents and grandparents. The wish that will be laid in the cradle of each new generation. Today's holiday should therefore be a happy and cheerful day. Not only because a century ago we were united again to celebrate the love for our nation but also because we know that as a nation we will do our utmost to ensure that in Prekmurje the generations to come will speak Slovenian and the Prekmurje dialect. That they will sing Slovenian and Prekmurje songs, because, as Feri Lainšček says, "heavenly time stands still when the soul sings".
Today, Prekmurje is an inseparable part of Slovenian territory. Due to the historical experience of its people living in various national communities and states, due to its geographical position and openness to communication it is present in many fields of creativity – in music, painting, literature and dance. Prekmurje also prides itself on successful companies, sports champions and scientists with enviable credentials. It has developed a culture of cooperation and life in harmony with the Hungarian national community that can preserve and develop its identity in peace and freedom. But development opportunities in Prekmurje are still far from being exhausted. It is the duty of every government to give these potentials the creative impetus they need and to provide their development. Also so that young people leaving home today to study in Ljubljana or abroad will return to their native Prekmurje, to find a job there and create a family.
Only in this way "Prekmurje in the heart", the slogan of the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Unification of the Prekmurje Slovenes with the Mother Nation will turn into true and living love and care by all of us for all of us and for everything that defines our common home. Because nothing can be taken for granted, nothing is given and taken for ever. That is why these words by the Bishop of Murska Sobota Dr Peter Štrumf to mark the 100th Anniversary are still and will always be relevant: "We are crossing the golden bridge to keep Prekmurje in the heart of Slovenia, and this bridge should also ensure that Slovenia remains in the heart of Prekmurje."
People of Prekmurje, citizens of Slovenia,
I would like to sincerely congratulate you on the occasion of the national holiday, the Day of the Unification of the Prekmurje Slovenes with the Mother Nation.
Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia