dr. Dimitrij Rupel
Minister of Foreign Affairs
of the Republic of Slovenia

This report deals with Slovene-Italian relations between 1880 and 1956. It is a result of research conducted by the "Slovene-Italian Historical and Cultural Commissionquot; over seven years, from 1993 to 2000. In order to elucidate problems from the past and to settle mutual relations in the future as genuinely as possible, the Slovene and Italian Governments proposed that experts from both countries describe carefully and objectively the historical developments along our western border. Although the initiative was launched at the government level, the researchers were completely independent in their work. The work - relatively limited in scope - took a long time, since the researchers had to reach a consensus about issues which had been disputable until then and which are still sensitive. A consensus was finally reached, the result of which is a joint uniform report by the Italian and Slovene authors describing the disturbing and also tragic past of the two nations. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government of the Republic of Slovenia are satisfied that this important initiative has been properly realised, and that it has resulted in an appropriate formal and authentic publication. Maybe our research enterprise will serve as an example for similar enterprises in the future.

The Slovene-Italian report on the past is a report for the future. It follows from the report that historical controversies must neither lead to controversies of the present nor to the burdening of future relations. If we accept the past, the relations will be more relaxed and friendly.

It is not possible to adapt history or to subject it to the will of the current authority. The joint Italian-Slovene report contains data which may not be to the liking of many. We in Slovenia do not refuse to face the findings of the historical report. We accept them as historical facts.

The report acknowledges that Primorska Slovenes have firmly-rooted national and political beliefs, and is at the same time critical to Italian Fascism. Some more superficial self-styled experts on the past events will be surprised since our common history is not marked merely by "fojbe" (Karst caves). The report is indeed not aimed at those who would not wish to hear the truth. The ambition of the authors was not to persuade those who had already been persuaded.

As has been mentioned, the Slovene-Italian Historical and Cultural Commission was established in 1993 with the aim of looking into and examining autonomously and thoroughly all aspects which are of importance for political and cultural relations at the bilateral level in this century.

On the Slovene side, the Commission was chaired by Dr Milica Kacin Wohinz and on the Italian side first by professor Sergio Bartole, then by professor Giorgio Conetti.

The Commission concluded its work on 25 July 2000 by initialling the concerted joint report which was then submitted to the respective foreign ministries. After half a century, fourteen Slovene and Italian historians have endeavoured to reconstruct the history of relations between Italy and Slovene nation, especial the Slovene Istria, i.e. that part of the former Yugoslavia which was the subject of particularly heated political expositions.

When discussing the time and manner of publishing the Report, complications and difficulties occurred. Some wished to continue the work of the Commission and to complement the Report. At last the two Governments agreed to organise two symposia this year at an Italian and a Slovene university (e.g. in Trieste and in Ljubljana) at which the work accomplished would be presented to a wider circle of those interested, particularly historians who would then be able to assess the work.

At the end of March 2001, parts of the draft Report were published by the Primorske novice, which resulted in a round of polemics, leading to further publication of parts of the Report by Slovene and Italian newspapers. The Co-chairperson of the Historical and Cultural Commission, Milica Kacin Wohinz, considered that by publishing incomplete parts of the text, the journalists had violated the copyright of fourteen Slovene and Italian authors since the Report was prepared by the Slovene and Italian Governments, which alone had the right to its publication.

On 4 April 2001 the report was published by the Italian Il Piccollo and the Primorski dnevnik, on June 2001 by the historical journal Storia contemporanea in Friuli.

The present book-form publication partly differs from the (pirated) publications known so far: it is comprehensive and authorised. In addition to the Slovene and Italian originals, it also contains the English translation.

Ljubljana, August 2001

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