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World March Blog
6 November 2009

Croatia and Slovenia

First of all, I’ve added pictures to the entry from Bosnia so take a minute to scroll down!

We’re now in wet Ljubliana, Slovenia.  It looks like a lovely city with an old, old centre but today it was raining too much to really enjoy it.

It’s been a good day though so far.  This morning we went to the University at the Faculty of Arts which was celebrating its 90th birthday (Dino was also celebrating his birthday today too).  They also took the opportunity to welcome the World March.  Back on the 2nd of October there were no plans for Slovenia, then suddenly in the last 4 weeks everything has come together, including yesterday the local organisers went to visit their President who confirmed his endorsement last week.  The local organisers are a great bunch of young people who are based at the University and they’ve achieved so much in such a short period of time.  Although today wasn’t the event with the most people, or with the most important meetings, it had one of the best atmosphere’s I’ve experienced in the last 35 days.  It was a really great enthusiasm for the March and a great happiness.

It seemed to be that spontaneously someone decided that we’d go to the centre of town and do a peace sign, so that’s exactly what we did.  We took about 80 people with us and even though the rain was pouring and I got soaking wet, it was great.  After that we went for pizza (for me, the third pizza in 2 days – and we haven’t reached Italy yet!)

There was nothing planned for the afternoon.  There had been a plan to do a March, but the police wouldn’t let us because we hadn’t asked for permission sufficiently ahead of time.  And they wouldn’t allow it even though the President endorsed the March!  The Police adhere to the law very strictly here!

Yesterday, we went to Zagreb.  This implied that we had to leave Sarajevo at 6:00 am because we supposedly had a March at 3pm.  However, got there in time only to find out that there was no March!  You can imagine how pleased we all were, knowing that we’d got up at 5:00 for nothing!  All we had on the agenda was a meeting with the President at 6pm.  Now, it’s really strange that in Croatia we didn’t meet any Croatians in support of the World March, at all, apart from the President!

Giorgio wasn’t with us, because he had to go back to Rome to prepare for the meeting with the Nobel Laureates in Berlin, and so I was given the role of “alternative spokesperson”.   Now, I’ve met a Prime Minister before, in a very rushed meeting in Kenya back in July, but never did I meet a President in such a formal setting before.  I’m not fantastically experienced at this kind of thing, and I had no idea what was going to happen and I was very concerned not to say something stupid or inappropriate.

He started speaking (through a translator) and he said lots of good and nice things.  He talked about the European Union being the best way to prevent regional conflicts, which was true and then talked about other things that I can’t really remember now because I wasn’t taking notes.  Then it was my turn to talk and somehow I managed to speak coherently and make useful points and not embarrass either the World March or the other members of our delegation!  We gave him the documents and WM memorabilia, asked him to endorse the Nobel Laureates charter and then very suddenly time was up and the Protocol officer was kicking us out.  The President said rather amusingly, “You can negotiate with terrorists but not with Protocol!”

And then we were on our way.  We’re waiting for their official photos which I hope to have soon.

Tomorrow we’re off to Italy and a Peace Sign with 1000 people in Trieste!  Should be interesting.

Big hug,

Tony

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