"We Are Ready to Invade Dalmatia" Italian minister says
The Italian Minister for Relations with Parliament, Carlo Giovanardi, has sent a letter to the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs following the article "We Are Ready to Invade Dalmatia" published in the Zagreb-based Vecernji List newspaper.
The ministry was asked to circulate the letter to Croatian media.
Giovanardi was quoted by Vecernji List as saying at a recent gathering of Italian World War Two refugees from Dalmatia that Italy would launch a cultural, economic and tourist invasion in order to restore "the Italianness of Dalmatia".
Resolutely condemning the time of nationalism and ethnic strife, Giovanardi wrote: "The only invasions that are possible at the moment, when barriers between countries are fortunately being torn down, are cultural, tourist and economic ones, in a future Europe of which we all will be citizens."
"In such a Europe linguistic minorities are a treasure to be cherished rather than a burden that should be isolated, and in such a Europe I want to feel at home in Zagreb, just as any Croatian citizen has the right to feel at home in Rome, Paris or London," the Italian minister said.
"I am enchanted by Croatian culture and the language, which is still spoken in many municipalities in the Molise region where down the centuries a majority of the population has not lost their roots that connect them to their country of origin on the other side of the Adriatic, just as I am enchanted by the contribution Italian-speaking Dalmatians have made to that area through history".
Declaring himself a friend of Croatia, the Italian minister recalled that he and his brother Daniele, former head of the Red Cross branch in the city of Modena, had organised three relief aid shipments to Zadar while this central Adriatic city was under Serb siege during the war in the early 1990s.