Open letter from Vinko Rizmal regarding events at the opening of the Consulate in Melbourne

I am sending this post in relation to the latest comments made at the 51st Meeting of the Committee for Foreign Affairs regarding events at the opening of the Consulate in Melbourne. 

Committee member Mr Bevk in his short comment agrees with the supervision inspection report and offensively suggests closing and  archiving this issue so that future historians would be able to see how far one political party went in Australia in 2014 in order to realise its goals. Since Mr Bevk is so opinionated in his statement it would be right that he named the party about which he was talking  and  to which Australian Slovenians were supposedly linked.

Such thinking is baseless. Among fellow Slovenians here there is such a low level of interest for parties in Slovenia that it plays no role in this. This can be gathered from comments so far as not one of our fellow Slovenians in their statements on this affair has mentioned any political party. The Slovenian political parties should stay in the background as this affair has nothing to do with them.

If you wish to conclude this affair  as quickly as possible, this is your decision. However, I am convinced that this affair will be put aside in Australia only when it is truly finished for both sides.

As far as accuracy of the information regarding invitations goes we are now dealing with a lot of vagueness which could be clarified immediately if there were enough will and honesty.

Opening of the Consulate and the reception for the guests

When the formal part of the Consulate opening was concluded I followed Mr Maddison on a 16km trip to the Jadran Club where the reception was held. When I entered the hall I observed what was going on. At the first table next to the microphone were seated Mr Mandelj, Mr Oman, Mr Maddison and Ambassador Dr Balazic.  They later had their snacks together at this table.

The newly appointed Honorary Consul Mr Maddison soon started his short speech. His speech was not followed by any speech by the Ambassador. As far as I can remember, the Ambassador did not give a speech.

The tables were not labeled and as many other guests were not yet there, I sat down at an empty table diagonally the furthest away from the table where the above mentioned were seated.  I was soon afterward joined by former Honorary Consul Mr Breznik, and then by Father Ciril and Father David. Later on the Starihas from Sydney joined us as well.

Mr Balazic later visited other tables and for a while joined our table. For a few moments our party was also joined by Mr Maddison who did not sit down.

I noticed that there were no representatives of the diplomatic corps at the reception even though a few did attend the Opening. This surprised me as such opportunities are of key importance for building up diplomatic and economic networks. 

When I think about Mr Balazic's explanations and his claim that he did not spend much time at the table near the microphone where Mr Oman was also seated and was served food, I must say that his explanation about the events at the main table is not true.

Mr Balazic is offensive in his presentation of the events when he talks about Slovenians down under, about our inexperience and ignorance and unawareness of the diplomatic protocol.  Australian Slovenians are quite skilled in diplomatic matters as we organised many much bigger formal events in the past  (Nasa bitka za Slovenijo, p 80-89, http://slovenianbusiness.com/nasa.pdf).

The defense by Mr Balazic in front of the Committee for Foreign Affairs further incensed fellow Slovenians in Australia, as it is full of misleading and incorrect statements and offensive remarks regarding our comprehension of diplomatic protocol.

The publication 'Nasa bitka za Slovenijo' shows that some of us have a lot of experience with diplomatic protocol. We learned these skills with assistance from our friends, Australian members of the parliament and senators, with whom we were in close contact when we organised the greatest function so far in Melbourne, that is, the Ceremonial Evening prepared by members of the National Council of Victoria, in cooperation with a few clubs and individuals to celebrate the recognition of independent Slovenia in February 1992.

Minister Erjavec talks about the need that Australian Slovenians are believed as they are honest people and their views should be respected. It is therefore not right to doubt their sincere statements... For this same reason I find it completely incomprehensible that he closed this whole issue. In this way he fully supports Mr Balazic's interpretation. 

Let me emphasize again that this affair occurred suddenly and unexpectedly. In my opinion it is completely inappropriate to connect it with political history of the first or whichever generation. Fellow Slovenians who are working toward finding a fair solution to the problem deserve to be treated with respect; our statements should be heard and taken into account.  

The reception in Jadran Club was photographed and filmed by Mr Darko Hribernik, who did this for Mr Maddison, and Mr Adrian Vatovec, a proposed Honorary Consul for South Australia from Adelaide. I am convinced that if need be they will make the results of their work public in an unbiased way.   

Vinko Rizmal
Melbourne, 22 April 2013

Statements made on this blog are the personal opinions of the commentators and do not necessarily reflect those of the blog owner.

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