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Italy and Tito’s Yugoslavia in the Age of International Détente


Edited By Massimo Bucarelli, Luca Micheletta, Luciano Monzali and Luca Riccardi

World War II and East-West confrontation redefined borders between Italy and Yugoslavia, reshaped national frontiers and adversely affected political relations. As a result, major quarrels and disputes arose over territorial claims, demarcation of State boundaries, expulsion of national minorities, and diverging visions on international and domestic politics. It was only in the 1960s and 1970s, during the years of Détente, that rapprochement between Rome and Belgrade became possible and normalization of bilateral relations was attained. Long-lasting territorial disputes, such as the Trieste question, were solved and bilateral relationship greatly improved, so much so that Belgrade became an important asset in Italy’s Balkan and Adriatic strategy, while Rome was a sort of bridge between Socialist Yugoslavia and Western Europe.
This book is intended to shed light on the process of Italian-Yugoslav normalization and rapprochement, which ultimately brought to the Adriatic Détente. Based on a wide collection of primary sources and documentary materials, it aims to contribute to a better understanding of the history of the Adriatic region, a conflicted European space that had been affected by territorial disputes and ethnic strife for decades during the 20 th century.


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After the Second World War, political and diplomatic relations between Italy and Yugoslavia were characterized by misunderstandings, polemics and hostility, which were mainly, though not exclusively, due to the Trieste question, a territorial dispute that had divided the two Adriatic countries for decades. After Italy’s defeat in the Second World War and Yugoslavia’s attempt to take possession of Trieste and most of Venezia giulia, the Peace Treaty of 10 February 1947 assigned the whole Italian territory to the east of the Tarvisio-Monfalcone line to Yugoslavia, with the exception of a narrow coastal belt which included Trieste (Zone A), occupied by the Anglo-Americans, and Koper (Zone B), under Yugoslav occupation. Under the Peace Treaty this coastal area was envisaged as a buffer state, the Free Territory of Trieste, which was to be formally built through the appointment of a governor by the UN Security Council. As a consequence of the war, Italy passed from the status of an imperial power to that of a mere object of international policy, searching in vain to influence the fate of the border areas. Instead, Yugoslavia was in a position of strength. As a victorious country that had been attacked by Italy, Yugoslavia could legitimately sue for reparations, and it would try to devise a grand foreign policy design to create a regional scenario which would avert the danger of finding itself encircled by hostile powers one more time in the post-war period. However, the division of europe into opposing political and ideological blocs made...

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