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Bojan Brezigar: Meetings… at home and around the world, about freedom, identity, minorities



Publishing House of Trieste Press, 2022

The beginning of the collection of various short writings by Bojan Brezigar, journalist, publicist and politician, born in Nabrežina near Trieste, dates back to a few years ago.

At that time, they are from the editorial office Primorske dnevnik suggested that he write something on the topic for the Christmas or New Year issue of the newspaper Meetings. Considering the author’s extremely eventful professional career, serving in various international organizations and journalism, as well as the related frequent travels, occasional stays in other countries and the network of friends woven at all ends, it was brzkone the hardest decision: where to start?

He chose a trip with a friend to Prague and a chance meeting with a curious Czech student on the Charles Bridge, who during the conversation directed them to a previously unknown inn. In the morning, August 21, 1968, they were woken up in the tent where they spent the night by the crash of planes from a nearby airport. They were military, Soviet. They announced the violent end of the Prague Spring…

The next meeting was a decade and a half later in Rome at a dinner at Andrej Novak, the correspondent of the central Slovenian media from Italy. There he met Guelph Zaccaria, a modest man with knowledge and connections at the top of Italian politics at the time. They became friends, and a few years later he connected Brezigar with people from the Human Rights Commission at the Prime Minister’s Office, which at the time began writing a law on the protection of the Slovenian minority.

This area, extended also to other minorities and less frequently used languages, is the red thread of most of the chapters in the book Meetings. In them, Bojan Brezigar reveals his later roles from an observer and researcher to an active participant in the loosening of political knots related to the enforcement of the rights of oppressed minority communities – first at the level of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region and then at conferences and also elsewhere in Europe and the world.

Although we are generally well-acquainted with the century-long efforts of Slovenes in Carinthia and Italy for language and national rights, Bojan Brezigar, himself a member of the Slovene minority, reveals many more or less well-known details. Among other things, the differences in the changing mood of the Austrian and Italian majority towards Slovenians upon independence and entry into the European Union. On the other hand, the descendants of Slovenian emigrants in the USA, as the author discovered during his visits to the areas where they are most densely populated, respect and worship their ancestors enthusiastically. old homeland”, but most of them do not even use Slovene in their mutual contacts.

In several chapters, Brezigar also writes about the consequences of the century-long reduction of minority rights to nations and national communities, such as the Basques or the Irish. Both have their own language as a key means of identification, but these days, despite more favorable conditions within the European Union, they hardly use it. The author has already come across completely a different practice of the Welsh. English is also their dominant language, but they are eager to learn it at all levels. “Welsh,” he concluded, “according to the latest data, it is the only minority language in Europe that is growing numerically.

Brezigar got a different impression in Friesland. There, during the congress he attended in the late 1980s, the most attention was paid to children; in addition to the all-day radio program, initially a single hour of television program was prepared just for them. At that time, Slovenes in Italy, he adds, did not yet have television programs in Slovenian!

Apart from Slovene, as he writes, Brezigar did not deal with any other minority as much as he did with the Catalan one. He was in Barcelona when Catalan was still banned, and on the day of the independence referendum, he witnessed the violence of the Spanish police. All the time, he maintained contacts with prominent defenders of Catalonia’s independence and remained critical of the greater part of Slovenian politics, which did not support their plans.

Of course, Bojan Brezigar also got to know the situation in the Baltic states well. In Lithuania, he met mainly with representatives of the Polish minority, while in Estonia he realized that after several decades of living in the Soviet Union, all the inhabitants of Estonia are fluent in Russian, many however, they do not speak Estonian. He made similar observations in Latvia. His position that Russian should be recognized as a minority language was strongly rejected everywhere. Decades of violent Russification are a burden that cannot be overcome overnight.

From the show From the book market.

Source: Rtvslo

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