Free Trieste Movement


The Free Territory of Trieste and its international Free Port (Photo: Roberto Giurastante) 

North to the peninsula of Istria, where the Adriatic Sea wedges in the heart of Europe and stretch as far as the most southerly cape of the Alpi Giulie, there is Trieste, a unique port as for history, traditions and legal status. For 536 years it was a fundamental part of the empire of the Habsburg, being its greatest maritime emporium, one of the top ports in the world until 1914.

Then its ruin, in the tragical November of 1918, with the arrival of pre-fascist Italy after the dissolution of Austria-Hungary: the beginning of an economic and social downfall. Annexed to the German Reich from September 1943 to May 1945, under the Treaty of Peace of 1947, Trieste was recognized as capital city of the Free Territory of Trieste (FTT).

On September 15th, 1947, a new independent Nation was born in the Europe that had to raise again from the ruins of the war. It was a nation built around the strategic port of Trieste, pillar for European Reconstruction after the war. In facts, Trieste and its port gave a valuable contribution to the rebirth of Europe, devastated by the disastrous conflict.

Between 1947 and 1954, the new Nation and its international Port, finally “free” from the suffocating Italian control, was administered by its first Government of State, the Allied Military Government of the Free Territory of Trieste (AMG FTT) becoming a vital artery for the aid delivered to the people of Central Europe. This is how Trieste confirmed its belonging to the same Mitteleuropa from which it had been painfully turned in 1918, for the sake of international politics.M

It was exactly during the British-US administration that the port of Trieste, confirming its extraordinary geographic position and its world-wide unique features of international Free Port, scored historical records when it comes to maritime traffics. The youngest State in Europe could expect a bright future. But it all ended in 1954, when the FTT was entrusted to the administration of the Italian Government, once again a decision taken for the sake of international realpolitik.

The Italian Government should have continued the good British-US administration of the AMG FTT: this was the international obligation established under the Memorandum of Understanding of London. Instead, the new administering Government started immediately to destroy the raising independent State with a strong and forced immigration of workers, most of them coming from Southern Italy.

All public offices were put under control by using the old and recovered structures of the Fascist regime. This nationalistic wave lead to the emigration of 40,000 Triestines. A whole generation was cancelled: the generation that should have developed the new, independent State. This operation was in facts ethnical cleansing, and the guarantor of the Treaty of Peace did not intervene to prevent it because of the tensions of the Cold War.

The operation was completed with the Treaty of Osimo, a bilateral agreement signed in 1975 between Italy and Yugoslavia, consolidating what to that point had become an outright simulation of sovereignty (illegal, because a bilateral treaty cannot amend an international treaty, as confirmed also by recently disclosed documents of the US Department of State).

Under the corrupted Italian administration, which to the present day favours the ports of the nearby peninsula, the port traffics of Trieste collapsed, to the point that was downgraded to a fuel port, while its free port regime was reduced, suspended, and there are even attempts to eliminate it completely, while the territory of Trieste was used as a dumping site of State: a very sad destiny for what should have been one go the main zones of worldwide economic development. Trieste has become the empty symbol of a defeated Nation, the symbol of the forced unification of a Risorgimental State based not on the will of the people, but on the interests of foreign Countries instead.

And once again, to preserve the fragile balances of post-was Europe, the international powers turned their heads. Trieste was sacrifici once again. But international treaties cannot be erased.

At the end of the Cold War, after the dissolutive crisis of Yugoslavia (during which former zone B of the Free Territory self-determinate and was recognized as a part of Slovenia and of Croatia by all States as well as under six Resolutions of the United Nations) history returns, along with the pushes for more autonomy in the new Europa of the EU, overwhelmed by an epoch-marching economic crisis.

The present-day Free Territory of Trieste, with its international Free Port and free zones granted under the 1947 Treaty of Peace of Peace, in force, currently is the most attractive resource for international trade and for enterprises in Europe: it is the European Singapore. And it only takes re-establishing the rule of law violated by Italy: this would reactivate en engine for the development of  Central Europe, and beyond.

The 1947 Treaty of Peace grants to the Free Territory of Trieste its own monetary system (article 30, Annex VI), its own laws and its own legal system, its own laws, and its own legal system. The citizens of the FTT must have their rights and fundamental freedoms respected in accordance with the UN Charter and they cannot be judged in their own jurisdiction under the laws of another State (article 4, Annex VI) unless those are properly extended to their State by the temporary civil authorities.

The Free Territory is exempt from the payment of the Italian public debt, (article 5, Annex X). Which means taxes can be payed to provisional authorities as long as they keep separate the budgets of the FTT from those of nearby Italy and use those incomes only for the administration of the Free Territory. No enforced collection can be carried out from other States, taking away the properties of the citizens – of of the State – of Trieste.

Same goes for the profits of the international Free Port of Trieste which, on annual bases and in spite of the neglectful Italian administration, amount to several billions of Euro and, currently, end up in Rome’s pockets.

This is only some of the rights recognized (and violated by the provisional Italian Government and by its Commissars) to Trieste. Rights which, by now, are claimed by the very citizens of the FTT who – for example – are being illegally judged by Italian authorities who act outside their jurisdiction,

Translated from blog “Ambiente e Legalità” – “Environment and Legality” by Roberto Giurastante

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