Italy watts for clue to new Trieste flares
MARSHAL TITO is to speak to a big Yugo' slam Communist demonstration on Sunday at Akroglica, dose to Gorizia on the Italian border, and a short car ride from the disputed Trieste Free Territory which has been causing a renewed storm of agitation on both sides of the frontier.
A semi-official Yugoslav Press report that Tito's Government was "re-examining its views" in the light of "cold annexation of Trieste by Italy" seems to have been the start of the present flare-up.
There had been no new development on the Italian side to warrant the "annexation" charge. 'I he last reasonable excuse was more than a year ago, when Britain and the U.S.A. admitted Italy to a greater share in the local administration of the part of the Free Territory they. control, which includes I ricste itself and its port.
Rome supposed that Yugoslavia must intend some new move of her own. Signor Pella. Prime Minister of the new stop-gap "Government of technicians." saw his Defence Minister, the Chief of the Italian General Staff. and the British and American envoys.
What benefit ?
In Belgrade, Western diplomatic representatives began asking questions and reporting home.
The Italian Press hazarded the guess that Tito's plan was formally to annexe the part of the Trieste Free Territory that he administers, Zone "B" at the top of the Istrian Peninsula.
'this was indignantly deniedin Belgrade. But even if the suggestion were true, it is difficult to see how Yugoslavia would really benefit. Zone "B" of the Free Territory is for all practical purposes already part of Yugoslavia.
Since Tito's partisans first occupied it, it has been run on completely Communist lines, integrated with the Yugoslav economy, and policed by sound Tito supporters. Annexation could be no more than a prestige move in the present known situation.
It is hard to see how it could. be worth the inevitable opposition of Britain and America, who guarantee the tree Territory's integrity-with 5,000 troops each in their zoneand on whom Tito depends for economic and military aid.
On the other hand, in producing their latest twinge in this long-lasting post-war hangover, Tito's men have shown no anxiety to spare Western headaches.
His Deputy Foreign Minister, Dr. Bebler-not the man to speak off the party line-pulled no punches on Sunday when he accused the AngloAmerican authorities of encouraging the Italians "to include Trieste and part of the Slovene border lands" in their territory.
It is interesting that the fresh agitation about Trieste coincides with renewed obduracy about the conclusion of an Austrian Peace Treaty on the part of Russia, whose relations with Yugoslavia have somewhat improved since Stalin's death. Russian S upport of Yugoslav territorial claims in Austria has been one of the factors holding up conclusion of the treaty.
Yugoslav propaganda was directed mainly at reported Italian troop movements in the Gorizia area, and a note of protest went to Rome. The Italians denied a charge that a few of their troops had violated the frontier north of Trieste.
Earlier they had said that any troop movements in the neighbourhood were normal summer manceuvres. Yugoslavia, too. is to hold manceuvres soon, her largest since the war. They are to be held round Ljubljana, in Slovenia, not tar from the Trieste Free Territory and the Italian border.
In one sense the alarm has done no disservice to Signor Pella and his rather shaky Cabinet in Rome. Trieste. for which Italy poured out so much blood in the first World War. is the one issue on which Italians of all parties-even the Communistswill unite.
In urging on the Western Powers that they should stand by their declaration of 1948 that the whole of the Trieste Free Territory should be returned to Italy. Signor Pella can be sure that he has the entire nation behind him.
By Tuesday though Yugoslav propaganda about Trieste continued voluble and violent-Signor Pella had indicated a slackening of the tension by going north for a short holiday.
Tito's speech on Sunday near Gorizia-another place-name that sets drums rolling in Italy-may show whether the new storm is more than a storm in a teacup. Certainly the stage has been set as for something momentous, with special trains laid on to carry 400,000 Slovenes to the area.
Things could hardly he worse for the Church in Zone "B." For years Yugoslav treatment of the clergy in the zone has been on a par with that in Yugoslav proper. The recent mob attacks on Yugoslav Bishops were paralleled in Trieste Zone "B" as long ago as 1948. when Bishop Santin of Trieste was more than once attacked by Communist-inspired demonstrators while trying to carry out his episcopal visits.
Catholic schools, once the mainstay of education in this area, have long gone the way of Catholic schools in other Communist territories, and the Catholic Press has almost ceased to exist.