Interview with the ambassador and writer Milan Jazbec: Inspirational vibes pervade Macedonian society

Milan Jazbec feels good in Skopje

The Slovenian diplomat, ambassador and writer Milan Jazbec is a frequent guest with us, and after his ambassadorial mandate ended, he strongly dedicated himself to writing and publishing books related to the Macedonian climate.

Ambassador Milan Jazbec experienced the peak of his diplomatic career during his mandate in Macedonia, where he is a frequent guest with both a professional and a private, friendly agenda.

Ambassador, your mandate in our country ended four years ago. What brought you back to us?

- Yes, the years fly by very quickly. This is old wisdom, but each of us experiences it in our own way. In July of this year, exactly four years will pass since I finished my Macedonian ambassadorial mandate. It lasted for four years, from September 2016 to August 2020, and I have been in Ljubljana for the same amount of time, in the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs.

My connection with Macedonia originates from my earliest childhood, from that terrible July 26 in 1963, when listening to the daily news on Radio Ljubljana, we learned about that terrible earthquake. At the end of the third grade in elementary school, as the best student, I was given a book by the Macedonian writer Meto Jovanovski, and less than fifteen years later I came to Shtip, where I served my military service. So, I took all that heritage with me when I came to you as the sixth Slovenian ambassador. That, as well as a handful of friends, regularly brings me here, in my favorite environment, where I feel good and have a good time.

I read somewhere that you, I quote, were born into a world of books. What does that mean?

- I realized that myself only in the last few years. My grandfather Albin, who from 1912 to 1920 worked in America, as a manual laborer in the deep woods around Chicago, where he worked on the railroad, was the only one in the entire region who subscribed to the daily newspapers and books published by the then publishing house " Presher's friendship". An ordinary but obviously curious man who sought new knowledge, he was a kind of self-taught village intellectual.

That's why, since I know myself, I've always been surrounded by books, literally living among them. I am convinced that such an environment marked and determined me for my entire life. So I cannot express my eternal gratitude to my grandfather, whom I remember very vaguely enough, for all that encouragement. And I accepted it from the heart, I take inspiration from it and I literally experience it as my joyful obligation.

During your tenure with us, the number of your books increased sharply, almost exponentially, to almost 80 titles. What was the reason for this inspiration?

- It really happened that way! Last December I reached 80 published books, and my Macedonian years have a big part in this. When I came to the Republic of Macedonia, I had published 37 books in seven languages, and when I finished my mandate in the Republic of North Macedonia (Slovenia always recognized Macedonia under its constitutional name), I had 65 books in 16 languages.

This is primarily a reflection of the great inspirational vibes that pervade Macedonian society and that must be recognized, as well as my activities, and then also the excellent cooperation that was created with a number of Macedonian publishers, especially "Matica Macedonian" and "Magor". .

In short, I can say that the extremely rich and colorful Macedonian cultural and linguistic atmosphere is imbued with some wonderful magic. I am very glad to have been a part of it all at the peak of my diplomatic career.

Among the more recent titles is the so-called "Macedonian cycle". What exactly is it about?

- My Macedonian literary cycle is a logical continuation of all that. Ten of my books were published in Macedonian, four in Albanian and three in Turkish, as well as translations in Romany, Vlach, Serbian and Bosnian. A part of them is poetry, for example, the collections "Shining star with a lion's mane" and the trilogy "Poems from self-isolation", then the novel about diplomacy "Rainbow behind the soul" and the book "Martin Krpan – diplomat and military leader".

There is also a journalist cycle, in which the book with 20 collected interviews that I had for the Macedonian Radio - Radio Skopje, which was realized by the renowned radio journalist Sveto Stamenov, was published. The unique book, which attracted a lot of attention, was published under the title "Skopje Conversations".

Cover of the book "Skopje Conversations"

What books and topics are you working on during this period?

- In the Macedonian cycle, which I intensified after the end of the mandate, together with my friend and colleague Sveto Stamenov we are preparing the second expanded edition of "Skopski conversations", but I am also preparing the second and third parts of the anthology for him, as a bard of Macedonian journalism . Towards the end of this year, my book "Macedonian Writings" will be published, in which my Macedonian essays and other texts will appear, because they have already accumulated a lot. But first of all, I must point out that as an editor I am preparing three books about the late legend of the Macedonian radio announcer and journalist Iskra Čolović, who died last December. That will be my contribution to the history of Macedonian journalism.

By the way, I started working on two large monographic series on diplomacy. One is in Slovenian language, in which I will talk about the origin, development and functioning of Slovenian diplomacy, and recently the first book of my selected works on this topic was published. And the second is a series of monographs on selected topics from diplomacy, which will be published in English. I hereby create a unique mega-diplomatic cycle. I have already started writing and publishing short stories about diplomacy, and recently the first book came out.

What are your professional plans in the near future?

– My plans are quite simple, if you can say so. I work in the analytical service of the Ministry and I can use my experience in the preparation of analyses, while in the afternoon I devote myself to my literary, academic and journalistic work.

As a professor of diplomacy, I continue my pedagogical work and maintain close ties with the International Balkan University and the "American College" University in Skopje, where I am a visiting professor. In addition to this, I write books, where my ambition is in two years, when I turn seventy, to reach the number of 100 published books. The pace is very good so far.

In short, I would say that all my life I have been doing what I wanted to do: writing, thinking and reading. I want that to remain behind me for future generations. And all this is manifested in my philosophy of life, in which the ethical and aesthetic aspects of the fate of homo sapiens occupy an increasingly important place.

(The interview was published in "Kulturen Pechat" number 232, in the print edition of the newspaper "Sloboden Pechat" on 24-26.5.2024)

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