The Slovenian Embassy in Canberra marked the 30th anniversary of Slovenian-Australian diplomatic relations and the upcoming Slovenian Statehood Day earlier this week. The event featured a performance by the Australian Army Band Corps, which played the legendary Slovenian polka song Na Golici by famous composer Slavko Avsenik.
In addition to the anthems of both countries, the Corps, much to the delight of the audience, performed Na Golici, the quintessential song of the Slovenian polka music tradition, the embassy told the STA.
The reception was attended by more than a hundred of Australian officials, diplomats, representatives of both Slovenian and Australian organisations and other guests.
Among them was also Neil Churches, a son of an Australian prisoner of war (POW) who was rescued from German captivity during WWII with the help of Slovenian Partisans.
A book documenting the daring escape under which some 100 Allied prisoners were freed from a camp in Maribor was recently released by Churches. Titled The Greatest Escape, the book says this was the largest POW escape in the Second World War and notes the above-average contribution of the Slovenian resistance to the Allied powers in the fight against the Axis alliance.
The event also served as an opportunity to bid farewell to Slovenian Ambassador to Australia Jurij Rifelj, whose term in office will end in mid-August.
In his address, Rifelj highlighted the importance of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Slovenia and Australia for the excellent relations between the two countries today.
He thanked the Slovenian community in Australia for its role in the rapid Australian recognition of Slovenia’s independence, underlined Slovenia’s commitment to a rules-based international order and presented Slovenia’s bid for non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council.
According to the 2016 population census, nearly 18,000 people in Australia identify themselves as Slovenians. Unofficially, 20,000-25,000 people in Australia are estimated to be of Slovenian origin.