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Trieste Prepares to Divorce Italy

trieste liberaBy Carla Reschia
A boom of signers for the extremist movement which demands independence: a manifestation of the movement (photograph taken from triestelibera.org). The newest party declares the city as “the free territory of Trieste” and proclaims a “tax strike”, demanding the arrears paid in past years.
A sticker in a bar with the symbol of the white halberd on a red field, the collection of signatures in a store, the threat of a tax strike against “illegal” taxes. The “Italianissima” Trieste wants a divorce from her mother country. Or at least the movement Free Trieste wants it, with a certain amount of consensus – up till now 3,681 Trieste residents are officially “unItalianized” and many more have signed petitions to the UN and the EU – and aspires to recreate the FTT, the Free Territory of Trieste, provided for in 1947 in the peace treaty with Italy at the end of the Second World War. An agreement that was then superseded by history on October 5, 1954 with the London Memorandum signed by representatives from the United States, United Kingdom, Italy and Yugoslavia; so goes at least the official story. The supporters of the FTT contest the conclusions, recalling the UN’s plan, never officially refuted, which provides for a free zone comprised of both Zone A (assigned to Italy) and Zone B (given to Yugoslavia), a small, independent land, even with a seat at the United Nations. Zone B, given to Yugoslavia and then to Slovenia and Croatia, objectively difficult to reclaim, the ex Zone A remains, “Trieste, the European port city” with its historical free port, full of glorious memories. There are many legal questions asked by the Trieste residents who intend to interpret the old local saying literally that only those born outside the city’s perimeters are “Italians”: from the citizen’s right, violated in occasion of the census taken of the Zone A population up to the lack of consulting them on their desire on becoming part of Italy. All questions, however, come from one supposition: the illegitimacy of the Italian government’s action that should have, as should the Anglo-American military administration have done before, limit itself to acting as a fiduciary of the UN’s international mandate instead of “annexing” the city. A thesis based on the interpretation of American government documents speaks of “administration”, not sovereignty. Are these wooly questions good for historians? It could be, but the consequences the FTT get from it and reclaim are very concrete, especially one: “the fiscal weapon is used as a form of repression to hush up the FTT citizens by forcing them to pay taxes, surtaxes and penalties that are collected by the Equitalia S.p.A. and the Treasury Department in behalf of the Italian State and in violation of the Peace Treaty of 1947. This lead to the idea of a tax strike that, if carried out on a large scale could cause further problems to the “invading” state, from the rejection of the national debt – which doesn’t belong to the guiltless occupied residents – and the airy request of the conspicuous arrears paid up until now. Online, at the Free Trieste site, other than in Italian is also written in English, German, Croatian, Slovenian and, obviously, Triestino, you can find forms for appealing against Equitalia and the invitation to sign the various appeals to international organisations. While waiting to “renegotiate Trieste’s relationship with Rome”, opening title of the last issue of “The Voice of Trieste” there are dreams of a once again flourishing city, returned to its ancient splendor, no longer in the corner of Italy but, as before, the center of MittelEuropa. A “multicultural, multilingual and international” pole, where the Free Port is no longer mortified by the marginality to which it has been reduced, by the impartial judgment of the militants, all local and national administrations up till today, becoming once more the “central mover of the economy”. With one eye towards the “backwaters of the Danube” and Vienna to which it is linked with 600 years of history in common, interrupted “by the Italian invasion in 1915-1917” and the other toward Slovenia, where the Minister of the Economy has recently announced the creation of a Customs Free Zone at Capodistria.

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