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Legal basis in place for return of National Hall to minority

Trieste, 8 October - The Italian government has adopted a decree effectively returning the National Hall in Trieste in possession of the Slovenian community there, a step that comes just over a year after the signing of a memorandum on the return of the symbolically important building.

Trieste, Italy
National Hall, the Slovenian community centre in Trieste.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA
File photo

The news was first broken by Senator Tatjana Rojc, a member of the Slovenian minority in Italy, and Primorski Dnevnik, the minority's Trieste-based newspaper.

Primorski Dnevnik says the government issued a decree on Thursday changing the 2001 minority protection act to provide for the gratuitous transfer of the building to the National Hall Foundation.

The transfer involves the exchange of several pieces of real estate between the University of Trieste, the current owner of the building, and the Agency for Public Goods.

Ksenija Dobrila, the president of the Slovenian Cultural and Economic Union, said the decree is the realisation of one of the commitments made in an agreement signed last year, but it may take a few more months before additional formal procedures are completed.

This includes a relocation agreement with the University of Trieste. Dobrila said the government had granted the university EUR 30 million until 2031 to sort out its property needs, which is "a very good starting point".

But she noted that the end-year, 2031, "makes you think about the duration of all the relocation procedures".

Designed by the architect Maks Fabiani, National Hall was built in 1904 and was the community's central cultural and economic institution. On 13 July 1920 it was torched by Italian nationalists and Fascists.

An agreement on the transfer of the building to the Slovenian community was signed during last year's ceremony marking the centennial of the torching of the building in the presence of the Italian and Slovenian presidents, Sergio Mattarella and Borut Pahor, in Trieste.

Commenting on the Italian government decree today, Pahor said he was genuinely happy. "A lot of credit for this milestone also goes to Senator Rojc," his office said.

The Government Office for Slovenians Abroad meanwhile said "this step takes us closer to the implementation of the 2020 memorandum". The office thus expects that the actual and final handover of the National Hall to the minority will happen "soon".

© STA, 2021