Updated at 18:00
STA, 10 February 2020 - The Slovenian Foreign Ministry has condemned a smear campaign in which the Italian neo-Fascist movement CasaPound put up banners describing World War II Partisans as assassins, issuing a protest following a recent attempt to deny the suffering of Slovenians at the hands of Fascists.
CasaPound put up banners reading Tito's partisans, villains and assassins (Partigiani Titini infami e assassini) across Italy on the eve of today's remembrance day dedicated to the victims of foibe, the Italian for karst chasms where the victims of post-WWII killings by Yugoslav Communists were thrown.
The banners, which carry the emblem of the Fascist movement, were also stuck to the facades of the Slovenian cultural home in Opicina, the France Prešeren Theatre in Bagnoli della Rosandra, both villages in the Trieste province populated by the Slovenian ethnic minority, the Trieste-based Slovenian newspaper Primorski Dnevnik reported.
Tatjana Rojc, the ethnic Slovenian senator in Rome, condemned the campaign as the latest attempt "to smear the Slovenian community, an addition to the worrying presence of CasaPound, which is raising its head through violent talk and by harming co-existence," she was quoted as saying by the Italian press agency Ansa.
"With today's smear campaign in Slovenian villages, the neo-Fascist organisation CasaPound has again demonstrated its intolerance of Slovenians and the suffering of the Slovenian nation under Fascism," the Slovenian Foreign Ministry commented.
Noting that the organisation carried out a similar campaign in December 2019, the ministry said that CasaPound deserved "condemnation by the democratic authorities of free Europe". The ministry urged the Italian authorities to respond and "take measures in accordance with their powers".
The ministry added that Slovenia respected the Italian remembrance day for the foibe victims. "We expect the same respect for Slovenian and other victims of the resistance against the occupying Fascism, in particular civilian victims who massively perished in Italian concentration camps."
The ministry said such mutual respect was not aided by panel debates organised under the sponsorship of the local authorities in Trieste, including one scornfully themed as "Slovenians' false self-pity", and another at which speakers claimed Slovenians burnt down themselves their National Home in Trieste in 1920.
"We cannot and will not allow the denying of the suffering by Slovenians and the distortion of history," the ministry said.
Last year the day marking the remembrance day for the foibe victims caused a major controversy between Slovenia and Italy after Antonio Tajani, serving as European Parliament president at the time, made what were interpreted as territorial claims in his address to a foibe victims remembrance ceremony. Tajani later apologised for his comments.
President Borut Pahor said in a press release today he had protested with Italian President Sergio Mattarella against the "unacceptable statements by senior representatives of Italy" made on last year's foibe remembrance day.
Pahor also said that Mattarella had agreed that the statements made last year had been inappropriate, and could create an impression of territorial claims.
He said he had called on his Italian counterpart to respect the historical truths. Pahor thinks an ideal opportunity "for our joint trip to the past and looking at the future" will be the upcoming ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the torching of the Trieste National Home.
The Council of Slovenian Organisations (SSO), the umbrella organisation of Slovenians in Italy, also strongly condemned CasaPound's smear campaign today, saying the "fascist act" was a "severe blow to the democratic values and freedoms on which we are building our future here".
The SSO moreover called on the Italian authorities to investigate the matter and punish the perpetrators.
The Social Democratic Party (SD) joined the call for action, saying CasaPound was trying to rehabilitate fascism, an "ideology that took the lives of millions around the world".
The Left also spoke of rehabilitation of fascism, saying that the recent misinterpretations of history, which are being promoted even by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, were inciting hatred between the two nations.