Tuesday

18th Jun 2019

Calls for Tajani's resignation over Slovenia, Croatia row

  • Antonio Tajani said his comments were not historical revisionism (Photo: European Parliament)

Former presidents and prime ministers of Croatia and Slovenia, along with several MEPs called for the resignation of the president of the European Parliament in an online petition after Antonio Tajani referred to parts of Croatia and Slovenia as Italian over the weekend.

The petition, put online on Tuesday (12 February) called for the "immediate resignation" of the Italian centre-right politician. On Wednesday it had almost 3,000 signatories.

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Speaking on Sunday at the ceremony in Basovizza, Italy, in honour of those Italians who died and fled the regions of Istria and Dalmatia during the "foibe massacres"carried out by Yugoslav partisans in the Second World War, Tajani referred to "Italian Istria", and "Italian Dalmatia."

Those regions became parts of Yugoslavia, and then later Slovenia and Croatia. Both areas were occupied by Italian fascists during the war.

After an outcry from Slovenian and Croatian politicians, Tajani apologised on Monday saying his comment on the regions "was in no way a territorial claim".

"I'm sorry if the meaning of my words has been misinterpreted," Tajani said at the parliament's plenary session in Strasbourg.

"It was not my intention to offend anyone. I just wanted to send a message of peace between the peoples, so that what happened then will never be repeated," he added.

The resignation demand was signed by Jadranka Kosor, former prime minister of Croatia, Milan Kucan and Danilo Turk, former presidents of Slovenia, and Stjepan Mesic, former president of Croatia.

It was also signed, amongst other MEPs, by two vice-presidents of the parliament's Socialists and Democrats group, Tanja Fajon from Slovenia, and Josef Weidenholzer from Austria, along with German MEP Knut Fleckenstein from the group.

The petition calls Tajani's words "unacceptable", that echo "historical revisionism", which "justifies fascism" and "encouraged us, the citizens of individual member states of the European Union, to demand his irrevocable resignation".

They claim Tajani's comments were "undoubtedly expressing fascist, irredentist tendencies", which are "absolutely inappropriate" in the 21st century.

The issue will be discussed by the S&D group on Wednesday evening, sources said, but a common position on calling for the president's resignation is unlikely. Tajani belongs to the rival, larger, European People's Party (EPP).

The signatories also call on other member states and the EU commission to react, arguing that "this kind of rhetoric should be clearly condemned by the European Union."

Slovenian EU commissioner Violeta Bulc on Monday tweeted: "This is not something we expect from our European leaders. Distortion of historical facts on the Slovenian-Italian border is unacceptable. The European story is one of peace, solidarity and unity."

Tajani reacted on his personal twitter account, saying merely: "History is history".

EU leaders task Tusk to find commission chief by June

With national leaders and the European Parliament divided over who to put forward for the commission presidency, the EU Council president will now start negotiations with all sides - hoping to come up with an answer by next month.

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