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History: 1953, Italy and Yugoslavia one step away from war

T. Montini, 'to rule Trieste'. Western powers foiled conflict

21 February, 17:18
(ANSA) - BELGRADO, 21 FEB - Italy and Yugoslavia were very close to clashing in a full-fledged armed conflict to take hold of Trieste in 1953. At the time, the city was under international administration, and the behind-the-scenes intervention from Western powers thwarted the explosive scenario. Research by the historian Federico Tenca Montini, author of 'Yugoslavia and the question of Trieste, 1945-1954', recently published by Il Mulino, confirmed this scenario.

"In the autumn of 1953, there was a concentration of Italian and Yugoslav troops in the border area close to zones A and B," the Italian researcher told ANSA. From 1947 until 1954, Trieste (zone A) was ruled by the allied powers, whereas Yugoslavia was temporarily assigned the administration of the so-called zone B, south of the city.

"The discovery of the draft of a "Yugoslavian" appeal to the UN secretary, in preparation on Tito's desk, testifies that if the Italian troops had violated the Zone A border, Belgrade would have responded by ordering the same, to obtain a truce and stem Trieste's handover to Italy, "Tenca Montini underlined.

According to the researcher's studies, that he carried out in the first person in the archives of all of the former Yugoslavia, the fuse of the potential conflict was precisely Italy's intervention, planned by the Pella government, which wanted to exploit the occupation of Trieste to increase its prestige and popularity. "If the Italian troops had crossed the borders of Zone A - explained Tenca Montini - the Yugoslav military response would have followed immediately." Yugoslavia prevented an Italian-Yugoslav conflict, as Belgrade managed to stop everything through diplomatic channels," involving the Anglo-Americans. Several "unequivocal" documents also testify that Yugoslavia was about to change its strategy and implement maneuvers to establish the Free Territory of Trieste (Tlt), to maintain control over the territory," added the scholar.

Fortunately, the war did not occur, and in 1954 Italy and Yugoslavia signed a memorandum of understanding in London, which provisionally bestowed zone A (Trieste) upon Italy and zone B upon Yugoslavia. Then, in October 1954, the first area passed from the allies' administration to the Italian one. (ANSA).

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