Courtesy Reuters

The Italo-Jugoslav Frontier

THE proposals regarding the Italo-Jugoslav boundaries made by the United States delegation at the London Conference of Foreign Ministers ran as follows:

The frontier with Jugoslavia should be substantially adjusted in favor of Jugoslavia to follow roughly the ethnic factor, subject to necessary modification to preserve the essential economy of the local region. There is suggested the old Wilson Line in part, with modifications in favor of Jugoslavia in the north and in favor of Italy in the south. The modification in the north is primarily for ethnic reasons; the modification in the south is for both ethnic and economic reasons and would preserve for Italy coal and bauxite deposits which are important for her economic life. The foregoing will give Trieste to Italy. It is suggested, however, that a substantial part of the port of Trieste be made a free port, administered by a commission containing representatives of the nations which will use the port. . . .

The "ethnic factor" formula gives rise to a good deal of doubt. If it had been said that the frontier had to be readjusted roughly in accordance with the "national factor," no room would have been left for equivocation. "National" feeling is based on consciousness and will. When we say that, according to the Austrian census of 1910, so many Italians and so many Slavs were living in Trieste and its outskirts, we mean that so many people professed Italian national sentiment and so many professed Slav national sentiment. But if we speak of "ethnic factors," we put our finger into a wasps' nest. For two thousand years (not to mention prehistoric times, about which we know nothing) Venezia Giulia was the meeting place of nobody knows how many "ethnic" elements coming from everywhere by land and sea. Italian nationalists and Fascists used to maintain that most of the Slavs were "ethnically" Italians who had "betrayed" their Herrenvolk; while Slav nationalists and Fascists (and now Tito's Communists) term most of the Italians "renegades" of Slav origin.

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