Slovenia Joins EU Border-Free Zone
At midnight on December 20, Slovenia and other EU newcomers from 2004 – the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and Slovakia – joined the European Union’s border-free zone, named Schengen Area after the Luxemburg village where the treaty was signed in 1985 by France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg. Inside the Schengen zone spanning 24 nations, visitors face no border controls.
Three days of celebrations along the path of the former border ended with the final ceremony at the Škofije border crossing with Italy, attended among others by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša and Italian Interior Minister Giuliano Amato.
The re-drawing of the Schengen boundary will also make Slovenia the area’s new eastern frontier. Virtually nothing will change along the 670-kilometre Slovenian-Croatian border, as Slovenia had already been carrying out Schengen-compliant border checks before that date.
Slovenian missionary committed to fighting poverty in Madagascar
Father Pedro Opeka has been working as a missionary in Madagascar for 30 years. He was born in 1948, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, of Slovenian parents. In 1989 Pedro Opeka together with local people created the association Akamasoa. Through this association he has helped more then 250,000 people, built over 2,900 homes, established six health centres and nine schools, attended by 9275 children in 2007.
In October he received the insignia of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor from the French president Nicolas Sarkozy. For his untiring work in helping the poorest, Opeka has been conferred many awards and appreciated especially those bringing also financial support for his projects.
Interview with Auguština Budja from Sweden
Although prematurely retired, Auguština Budja is actively involved in different activities: writing articles, books and poems, translating, interpreting and singing. Her authored work includes eight books; dedicated mostly to Slovenes living in Sweden. Some of them are self-published and represent an inestimable value not only for Slovenes in Sweden but for everyone interested in the thematic. However, according to her, our country undervalues her efforts and achievements.
Auguština Budja has been living in Sweden for 43 years. Most of her relatives, actually 40, live also there. Her father and brother established the first club of Slovenian emigrants in Western Europe in 1968. Their musical performances stimulated also other Slovenes over there to found Slovenian clubs and associations.
Slovenian Musicians on Tour in Australia
Zapeljivke (Monika, Maja and Melisa) with Boris Kopitar brought Slovenian songs to Australia. Compatriots gave them a hearty reception. Their concerts in Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne were memorable. The last was attended by 600 compatriots, members of all emigrant associations from Victoria. There they could appreciate traditional Slovenian food and drinks. In Melburne they met Peter Mandelj, the main organizer of the tour, coordinated from Slovenia by the Slovene emigrant association.