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  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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BLOG: Three visits: Slovenia, Croatia and Greece. Three opportunities for Canada to continue the dialogue and strengthen ties with that part of the world.

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October 16, 2009

by Her Excellency Michaëlle Jean

On October 20, at the request of the Prime Minister of Canada, we will continue where we left off in Slovenia, in December 2008, when our official visit had to be cut short because of the political situation here at home. You will no doubt remember that I had to urgently return to fully assume my constitutional responsibilities and address the prorogation issue. Our itinerary in Slovenia includes official ceremonies and bilateral discussions with the President, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Mayor of Ljubljana. We will also take part in forums with members of civil society, notably from women’s organizations, the cultural community, young people, and people concerned with social cohesion and peace in that region of the world, which has suffered so many serious crises and years of war.

After Slovenia, we will visit Croatia, where, in addition to the usual official ceremonies and meetings, we will also host public forums—not only in the capital, Zagreb, but also in Dubrovnik and in Split—on cultural diversity, the preservation of heritage, and the ongoing reconciliation efforts being made after years of conflict that have deeply divided communities. Our visit will coincide with the Zagreb Film Festival, where Canada will be represented this year by the fantastic film, J’ai tué ma mère, by Quebec filmmaker Xavier Dolan. In conjunction with the festival, we are organizing an Art Matters forum with our delegation. We will also promote the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games with local Olympic and Paralympic committees.

The Olympic theme will be front and centre in Greece, as we will be there when the Olympic flame begins its journey towards Vancouver! It promises to be a dazzling, yet solemn, ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Athens. Athletes all around the world are waiting with baited breath for the moment the countdown to the Games finally begins! The ceremony will be attended by Canadian and Greek dignitaries, as well as members of the International Olympic Committee. As a symbol of our solidarity with the Greek people, we will plant a tree in the heart of Olympia and donate other trees to help reforestation efforts in areas recently devastated by wildfires. We will also speak to young Greeks who are very concerned with better defining their role in their country, the cradle of democracy and a member of the European Union for nearly 30 years. Artists will also take part in this conversation during an Art Matters forum.

As always, we have chosen dynamic people to be part of our delegation; people who represent the diversity of Canada and a variety of points of view. Artists, young leaders, academic researchers, managers who are very active in community and cultural activities, women and men of action and thought. I invite all of you to follow their blogs and take part in the conversation on this site throughout these visits. Come and join us!