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EDITORIAL
from issue no. 12 - 2005

Autonomous and moderates


By a fortuitous coincidence, on the same day the newspapers gave the news of the death of the Kosovo Albanian leader Rugova and of the strange constitutional initiative in Austria, on an alleged right-duty to protect the German-speaking citizens of Alto Adige...


Giulio Andreotti


The President of Kosovo Ibrahim Rugova

The President of Kosovo Ibrahim Rugova

By a fortuitous coincidence, on the same day the newspapers gave the news of the death of the Kosovo Albanian leader Rugova and of the strange constitutional initiative in Austria, on an alleged right-duty to protect the German-speaking citizens of Alto Adige.
I had close discussion with Rugova during his melancholy stay in Rome at Villa Doria Pamphili. And I learnt that, in the course of his militant commitment to the autonomy of his country, he had taken the Statute of the Trentino-Alto Adige Region as model. The Belgrade authorities wouldn’t listen; and indeed reduced the small seed of autonomy that did exist on paper. But unfortunately even the majority of his fellow citizens did not back him, demanding (futilely) national sovereignty. Not to mention the whingeing of the exponents of Greater Albania.
The lot of moderates is unfortunately almost always this. And in Kosovo the presence of foreign troops is still necessary for security, while the Serbs who took the path of exile are still refugees without any prospect of return. Only a few optimists still believe that one day they will be able to return home. And the same destiny is looming over those with the right to return to Croatia and Slovenia following on the Dayton Agreement.
For the other of the two matters, I don’t know whether the strange constitutional anticipation arose as reaction to the stupefying initiative of the spokesmen of the center-right in challenging the SVP(Südtiroler Volkspartei) party’s right to call itself such, using a term from a foreign language. Not even the diehards of the Movimento sociale (MSI) had ever advanced censures of the kind. The unthinking ruse is in danger of provoking reactions and even hazardous initiatives.
That the Gruber-De Gasperi Agreement is the origin of the Special Statute of the Trentino-Alto Adige Region is beyond doubt. It was that responsible and timely diplomatic initiative that removed from the agenda of the Peace Treaty the question of the Brenner Pass frontier that the English wanted to readjust to satisfy Austria, considered the prime victim of Hitler’s expansionism.
The church of the monastery of Lesok, Kosovo, mined in 2001. 112 churches have been blown up since 1999

The church of the monastery of Lesok, Kosovo, mined in 2001. 112 churches have been blown up since 1999

Touching the Brenner would have meant providing a serious reason for reaction (and even possible hazardous initiatives) in an Italy that in the First World War paid a very harsh price in dead and wounded to regain its territory.
The rights of German and Ladino speaking citizens are safeguarded in the Regional Statute, approved by the Constituent Assembly in 1948. Gruber, the Austrian minister, himself later publicly acknowledged Italy’s stand, while the issue was scratched from the agenda of the United Nations.
Allowing without prejudice for the restoration of citizenship to those who had earlier opted for Germany (the disastrous Hitler-Mussolini decision), the work on the bundle of norms for the actuation of the Statute was done in a spirit of exemplary collaboration between the Region and the capital of the Republic.
The final phase took place under a national government led by myself and I devoted myself intensely to it, not because I thought that whoever followed me might change tack, but because of the risk that, not knowing the complexity of the matter, they might find themselves struggling and take time to untangle it.
For the rest, over the years, when from over the border some suggestion was made that proved a stumbling-block, it was not due, largely, to Austrian urging, but to the Bavarians, mostly immigrants from the East.
As for Italo-Austrian relations, the “European” vocation of Austria – backed by us – could not but favor relations between the two countries.
Answering the question of how he judged the overall behavior on the ground of the Italian government, Sylvius Magnago, the highly respected spokesman of the SVP, replied “pretty fair” at a conference held in Trento some years ago. Had he said “good”, he might have created problems for us.
But there’s more. Alongside the firm Italian constitutional guarantee, the ethnic minorities have also the strong bulwark of the Treaty of Paris of 1990, that solemnly reconfirmed the aims of European security and cooperation adopted with the Helsinki Act in 1975.
I can add a particular. In the Senate, Cossiga and myself belong to the parliamentary grouping of the “Autonomies” together with colleagues from Alto Adige and the representative of the Valle d’Aosta. We are splendidly led by Senator Helga Thaler Ausserhofer and we constitute an example of the lack of levelling in the two-party system.


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