STA, 11 February 2019 - Senior Slovenian officials have expressed criticism at what they described as attempts at revisionism by the Italian leadership in speeches marking the day of remembrance for the foibe victims.
What were the “foibe massacres”? Learn more on Wikipedia…
"This was unparalleled revisionism. Fascism was a fact and its goal was to destroy the Slovenian nation," Prime Minister Marjan Šarec wrote on Twitter on Monday about comments by "visible politicians, even EU officials".
The comment refers to speeches made by EU Parliament President Antonio Tajani and Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini at a ceremony in Basovizza on Sunday commemorating ethnic Italians killed by Yugoslav Partisans after WWII, when thousands of Italians fled what had just become Yugoslavia and thousands more were killed.
Tajani spoke about "thousands of innocent victims killed for being Italian", saying that the "victims of war and anti-Italian hatred were killed by soldiers wearing the red star just because they did not lower the Italian flag."
He finished his speech by saying "Long live Trieste, long live the Italian Istria, long live the Italian Dalmatia."
Salvini, echoing Tajani's comments, equated foibe victims with those killed in Auschwitz and said the killers of both were criminals.
Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan also issued a condemnation of Tajani's speech, saying that "everyone who wants to strengthen neighbourly relations and coexistence of EU nations must refrain from statements that upset the public."
"I therefore urge officials not to conduct historical revisionism," he wrote on Twitter, adding that both sides should stick to the findings of a bilateral commission of historians.
Following years of deliberations, the commission in 2000 released a report saying that the killings of Italians, who were often cast into karst chasms known in Italian as foibe, had been revenge against the Fascist and Nazi violence, and efforts to get rid of actual, potential or just alleged enemies of the communist regime.
Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said he would address a letter to Tajani over his "inadmissible statements". "I'm going to warn him that such rhetoric is utterly unacceptable in Europe in 2019 and runs contrary to the values that the EU is striving for."
"We condemn such falsification of our common European and Slovenian history. What Tajani said was particularly unacceptable and unheard of. Such statements instil fear," Cerar told reporters at a press event convened specially for this occasion.
The Foreign Ministry separately condemned "attempts at unilateral and selective interpretation of historical events in the border area," noting that revisionism ran contrary to the "fundamental principles of the European system."
Neither the ministry nor Cerar himself indicated whether any other type of action might be taken, but Matjaž Nemec, the chair of the Foreign Policy Committee, said his Social Democrats (SD) would initiate a debate at the European Parliament. He also suggested the Italian ambassador should be summoned.
Several other Slovenian MPs and MEPs, in particular those from leftist parties, issued similar condemnations, but there were also dissenting voices.
Democrat (SDS) president Janez Janša, the leader of the largest opposition party, said Šarec was the one engaging in revisionism, naming the development "a clear example of one extreme feeding the other".
"Fascism was a fact and its cruel crimes disclosed. The Italians hung Mussolini themselves. SLO communists, on the other hand, killed more Slovenians in a few months than the Fascists killed in 20 years," Janša wrote on Twitter.