La Voce di Trieste

Does Rome want to eliminate the European Singapore?

Analysis by Paolo G. Parovel

As known by all specialized strategic analysts, at the top end of the Adriatic, the beautiful city of Trieste and its international Free Port, the only one in the world, are still trapped in a legal-political and media “bubble” since the Cold War era, which has therefore no reason to exist anymore, but it allows the corrupted Italian politics to suffocate them covered in silence and at the expenses of the whole international Community.

The bubble consists in the fact that the little sovereign State of the current Free Territory of Trieste – FTT established since 1947 under guarantee of the Security Council of the United Nations, with an international Free Port at service of all States, with the right to its own legislation, monetary and financial system, taxation, as well as its own banks, insurances and Stock exchange, but without public debt – the Singapore of the Mediterranean and of Europe – is still entrusted to the Italian Government under a mandate of temporary civil administration.

The consequence is that the Italian takes advantage of the mandate by illegally administering the Free Territory and its international Free Port as if these were under the sovereignty of the State of Italy, and by this deceptive mean it forces the laws and abnormous taxes, violating the rights of the citizens, of local and foreign enterprises, as well as of other States.

In 2015 this illegal situation has come to the breaking point, because the provisional Government and the State of Italy, after devastating the economy of Trieste by persecuting, with those abuses, the citizens and enterprises of the Free Territory, are now assaulting with Italian legislation and taxation even its main economic bodies of State: the International Free Port and the Industrial Area of the Port.

This new aggression does directly affect also the economic rights of the other States, putting the enterprises, investors and the International Community before a choice that can no longer be postponed: beginning to impose the reactivation of all international juridical and economic rights of the Singapore of the Mediterranean and of Europe, or letting the Italian Government to paralyze and eliminate it from the market.

This is not a marginal choice, it’s a strategic one, because in the present days the European-Mediterranean function of the Free Territory of Trieste and of its international Free Port for the free traffics and international trade, for international finances and for the economic stabilisation of South-eastern Europe is much more relevant than it was at the time of its establishment, after World War II to grant the trades of Mitteleuropa.

A little European State with special strategic and economic privileges

The Free Territory of Trieste – FTT is a little European State is a little independent European State, recognized as a member de jure of the United Nations, established on 15 September 1947 under its provided provisional regime of Government in compliance with UNSC Resolution S/RES/16 (1947) of the Security Council and of the Treaty of Peace with Italy (UNTS Vol. 49 – 1950, No. 747).

The FTT is under the direct protection of the Security Council of the UNO, and besides its own territorial, monetary, financial and fiscal sovereignty, it is in the maritime centre of gravity of Mitteleuropa with a big international Free Port, the only one in the World, at service of all States. No other little State in Europe has this strategic position and economic advantages.

Special trusteeship and international relations

The provisional regime of Government of the FTT is a form of special trusteeship established and regulated at article 21, paragraph 3 of Annex VII of the Treaty of Peace and by an additional, executive instrument: the Memorandum of Understanding of London of 5 October 1954.

The provisions of the Treaty of Peace concerning the FTT and the Memorandum of London are in force (see U.S. Department of State, Treaties in Force) the only amendment being the marginal territorial changes consequent from UNSC Resolutions S/RES/753(1992), S/RES/754(1992) and S/RES/777(1992), concerning Croatia, Slovenia and the extintion of the Yugoslav Government.

Therefore, the current Free Territory of Trieste consists in the capital city, Trieste, with the international Free Port, and in five smaller municipalities nearby; it does not have territorial claims against the bordering States (Italy, Slovenia) or against its neighbours (Croatia).

The special trusteeship over the current FTT started on 15 September 1947 with the direct establishment of a provisional military government (AMG FTT) entrusted to the Government of the United States and of the United Kingdom, entrusted with the defence, the temporary civil administration and the foreign representation of the FTT.

Since October 1954, their Government disengaged their military forces in the FTT, leaving its defence to the NATO and entrusting, with the Memorandum of Understanding of London, the temporary civil administration, which includes foreign representation, to the responsibility of the Italian Government. Not to the State of Italy, because that would give raise to a conflict of sovereignty.

This is why, since 1947, the FTT has become a Member State of several international and European organizations (ERP, OEEC, EPU, ECMT, ICPO) before which the provisional Italian Government committed itself to exercise the foreign representation of the FTT through the diplomatic missions of Italy.

The enforcement of the Treaties establishing the European Union was extended to the FTT after 1954 with the special clauses concerning European territories of which a member State, Italy in this case, does temporarily have international representation, but not sovereignty (chronologically: article 79 ECSC Treaty, article 198 of the Euratom Treaty, article 229 TEC, 227 n. 4 TEEC, 355 n. 3 TFEU).

However, the provisional Italian Government has omitted to conclude successive agreements to associate and for the adhesion of the FTT to the European Communities and then to the European Union. Due to this, in the FTT, the extension of EU legislation that bounds Member States is temporary, limited and does not constitute an obligation.

The sovereignty of State of the FTT is also the main reason why the EU cannot apply to the international Free Port of Trieste the fiscal and customary legislation that it applies to free zones of Italy or other Member States.

Decades of strategic freezing

The transition of the FTT from the provisional regime of Government that has started in 1947 to the permanent regime of Government (Annexes VI and VII of the Treaty of Peace) remained frozen for decades due to the strategic necessities of the Cold War and later because of the crisis of Yugoslavia.

The entrusted Italian Government took advantage of it to favour Italian ports, suffocating the international Free Port, the rights of all other States and the economy of the little independent State by slowly and unlawfully forcing on it the laws and taxes of the State of Italy.

The International Community did not take direct action to re-establish legality, but it did keep intact the international legal status of the current Free Territory of Trieste and of its international Free Port to reactivate them at the service of the international maritime traffics and financial markets after the re-establishment of democracy in Europe

The strategic importance of the reactivation

After the stabilization of the former Yugoslav republics of Slovenia and Croatia, it is time for the International Community to restore also the economic and fiscal advantages of the Free Territory of Trieste and of its international Free Port as part of Central and South-eastern Europe’s need of economic stabilisation and development.

Instead, the provisional Italian Government attempts to obstacle the international reactivation of the Free Territory and of the Free Port, continue to paralyze both as if they were a border region of the State of Italy. For this purpose, Italian authorities go as far as claiming that the Free Territory of Trieste has never been established, or was cancelled by successive international accords.

But this is not but clearly false, political thesys, because since 1947, Italy has irreversibly recognized the Free Territory of Trieste as a sovereign State, established under its expected provisional regime of government, by undersigning and ratifying the Treaty of Peace and successive international and european agreements (multilateral and bilateral) as well as by issuing dozens of consequent national laws.

The main strategy of the Italian Government does therefore consist in supporting those thesis only through the media and imposing these in domestic policy, through political parties, public administrations and magistracy, while on the international level it avoids discussing them in deep, as well as influencing other States by misinformation and lobbying actions.

The provisional Italian authorities did use this dual role to gradually deprive the economy of the Free Territory of Trieste for the advantage of Italian economy in the sectors of ports, industry (starting with the shipyards) as well as in the fields of finance and insurances. In 1997 they did unlawfully shout down the Stock Exchange of Trieste, which had been opened in 1755, and currently are favoring the transfer of the main registered office of Assicurazioni Generali s.p.a. (founded in Trieste back in 1831 and currently the world’s third insurance company) from the FTT to Italy.

New unlawful aggressions

The economic consequences of the above mentioned illegal activities of the provisional Italian Government were under-evaluated because the direct judicial and fiscal aggression of the State of Italy did damage the citizens and enterprises of the little independent State, however, it did not severely affect its two main economic State corporations: the international Free Port and the EZIT – Ente Zona Industriale Trieste (organization for the development of the industrial zone of Trieste).

Yet, in the past weeks, the Government in Rome is attempting to assault and then unlawfully hand over to the State of Italy both the EZIT and the international Free Port. And this gamble does therefore show the real situation, because it does directly greaten the economic foundations of the Free Territory of Trieste and the general and special rights held by all States over the international Free Port.

The aggression to the international Free Port

The aggression of the Italian Government against the international Free Port of the Free Territory of Trieste and against the rights of all States consist in the absolutely unlawful attempt to eliminate its northern half, namely said Northern Free Port, which covers a surface of 70 hectares following 3 kilometres of coast, and to transfer the status of the Free Port of Trieste to the Italian ports and rear ports of Monfalcone, San Giorgio di Nogaro, Cervignano, and others.

The operation has the main purpose, not declared officially, to artificially divert to the ports of the Italian peninsula the new, large-scale traffics expected from the Baltic-Adriatic and transsiberian routes through Vienna-Bratislava. The natural ports for those traffics are Trieste (FTT), Koper (Slovenia) and Rijeka (Croatia), but to divert all freight traffic to Italy it is enough cutting out of the market the fiscal advantages and unused, equipped areas of the international Free Port of Trieste.

The artificial deviation of the freights from the port of Trieste is forbidden under international law (Treaty of Peace of Paris, Annex VIII, article 16), also, in this case it would not be occasional, but permanent, it would sabotage the strategies for the economic stabilisation of South-eastern Europe and it would increase the economic and political power of the big Italian criminal organizations.

The official reason behind the attempt to eliminate the Northern Free Port is to destine the area to massive building and housing operations, which in the Italian political system are also a mean to fund both political parties and organized criminality. In this case, they are unlawful ab origine and there are no project, instead, there are anti-mafia questions, which are serious, public and documented, and to which the Italian politicians involved refuse to answer.

Counteractions and the acceleration of illegal operations

Until 2010, provisional Italian authorities were able to repress, by the media and by political, economic, fiscal and legal pressing, the local defences of he citizens and of the enterprise of the Free Territory of Trieste, as well as preventing the opening of international legal actions deactivating its foreign representation of State before international and European organizations.

Since 2011, investigative newspaper La Voce di Trieste and the Free Trieste Movement activated the defences of the Free Territory of Trieste, of its international Free Port and of the rights of its citizens, enterprises as well as of the other States, developing analysis and public denounces, as all as legal, and political-diplomatic actions aiming at the re-establishment of legality.

Since 16 September 2015, those defences are implemented with the establishment of the International Provisional Representative of the Free Territory of Trieste – IPR FTT, which has taken upon it the foreign representation of the Free Territory before other States and before international organizations, through direct delegations from citizens and enterprises.

Facing these defences, the Italian politicians involved did accelerate the illegal operations to complete these within this month, October 2015, or not later than December, and they did justify their attempt to force their action declaring that, according to them, politics is stringer than the law, and hiding that the consequences for the enterprises would be much more general and devastating than the effects on the Northern Free Port alone would be.

A devastating threaten to the enterprises

The devastating threaten for the enterprises depends on the fact that the political forcing consists in claiming that the international Free Port belongs to the State of Italy, and that it can do whatever it wants with it, since the Free Territory would have no legal existence.

Yet, if that were true, not even the international Free Port would exist, since it is established under the Treaty of Peace as a state corporation of the Free Territory.

But the State of Italy has no power to establish or manage an international free port, and its free zones are limited under the specific restrictive regulations of the European Union (Directive 69/75/EEC; Council Regulations EEC No. 1496/68, 2151/84, 450/2008; European Court of Auditors, Special Report No 2/93).

This means that also the rights of other States and the rights of both foreign and local enterprises over the international Free Port depend on the existence of the Free Territory of Trieste as a sovereign State, and it is for this reason that none of them must pay customs chargers of taxes to the State of Italy.

So, if the Free Territory does not exist, those rights do not exist either and all local and foreign enterprises that used the international Free Port of Trieste must “return” to Italian tax offices all custom dues and levies that they have not paid in the past decades, which amount to billions of Euro.

If this were the case, the mandatory tax collection of the State of Italy would cause a massive, collective bankruptcy that would overwhelm local economy, which is already devastated by the regular application of Italian taxation, which turns away foreign investments, which would completely cease.

And this destructive fiscal aggression is not a mere theoretical view, but a practical, imminent observation, because the State of Italy is already carrying it out to bankrupt the Industrial Zone of the port.

The aggression to the Organization for the Industrial Zone

The Ente Zona Industriale Trieste – EZIT (Organization for the Industrial Zone of Trieste) is a State corporation established in 1949 by the Anglo-American Government of the Free Territory to manage the land and the development of the whole industrial Zone of the port of Trieste. In the performing of its duties, the body was exempted from the payment of taxes to the Free Territory, even less did it have to pay the taxes of the State of Italy, which is a third State.

Instead, the State of Italy does illegally want from the EZIT about EUR 100 millions for decades of unpaid Italian taxes, and currently the collecting body of the State, Equitalia, aggressed and paralysed it by seizing its bank accounts and immovable properties to collect, by force, a first tranche of EUR 9.2 millions.

Since the EZIT cannot pay those taxes, nor in full or making instalment payments, the State of Italy wants to put it in liquidation and take possession of either all of its properties or the revenues granted by their auctioning. Due to this, even the salvation of the EZIT is only the legal existence of the Free Territory of Trieste as established sovereign State.

The instruments to solve this situation

It might seem a paradox, but the facts that can finally unblock the situation of the Free Territory of Trieste are, after the documented abuses committed by the provisional Italian administration, its above mentioned attempts to seize, unlawfully, the international Free Port and the organisation for the industrial zone to eliminate both.

Because attacking the Free Port and the EZIT does directly affect both the rights and the interests of local and foreign enterprises, forcing them to react to survive, but also the rights and the interests of other States, forcing them to face the problem.

At the same time, the fact that Italian administration turned into an economic desert the little, independent European State that offers the best port, commercial, financial and fiscal advantages did also make extraordinary room and conditions for the international investors who have interest and right to activate those advantages.

This means that, for the first time in decades, the question of the Free Territory of Trieste and of its impressive economic, logistic and financial potential that makes it the Singapore of the Mediterranean and of Europe can be unblocked without triggering international crisis.

Because to unblock it is enough actively summing the rights and legitimate interests of the International Community, of the citizens and of the enterprises to impose to a defaulting provisional Government to re-establish legality or resign from its mandate.

It is yet to clarify whether the Government of Rome prefers to insist in its attempt to illegally eliminate the Singapore of Europe, or sharing with other States the advantages of its full activation and development.


© 31 Ottobre 2015

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Testata giornalistica registrata presso il Tribunale di Trieste - n.1232, 18.1.2011
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