Senator George V. Voinovich '61 Honored by Slovenian President
Voinovich receives the
Golden Order of Merit
The Decoration of the Golden Order of Merit of the Republic of Slovenia is the highest award that can be presented to a non-Slovenian citizen. Throughout his career, U.S. Senator George V. Voinovich '61 has worked consistently to improve this region of the world.
In Slovenia, Senator Voinovich (R-OH) met with officials from the International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victim Assistance (ITF). In May 1998, the U.S. Congress appropriated $28 million for the ITF to assist mine-affected countries in the Balkan region. The law specified that the U.S. contribution would be used to match contributions to the ITF by other governments and private donors. Senator Voinovich has actively supported the ITF in the U.S. Senate since its founding.
ITF Director Dorijan Marsic discussed ITF's past achievements and future plans with Senator Voinovich and thanked him for his support of the fund. The U.S. administration has so far contributed more than $72 million for the fund, and has pledged an additional $9.92 million for 2005. Senator Voinovich is also the proponent of a proposal to earmark a further $10 million for the fund in the 2006 budget.
The ITF has become the demining instrument of choice for the international community in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the rest of the Balkans. All demining operations in Albania, and over 70 percent of those in Bosnia-Herzegovina, are now conducted through the ITF, which has also played a major role in financing demining in Croatia and Kosovo as well. According to the U. S. Department of State, this is due to the ITF's demonstrated ability to deliver high-quality demining results quickly, efficiently, and in a financially transparent manner, at costs that are "donor friendly."
In October 2003, Senator Voinovich became one of the first members of the U.S. Senate to be presented with the ITF's "Demining and Mine Victims Assistance Award," for his leadership to help keep the Balkan nations safe from land mines remaining from the 1990 ethnic conflicts.