Do you have any ancestors born in Istria, Fiume and Dalmatia? If so, you may be Italian!

Apr 21, 2020
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One of the most famous Italians who claimed the disputed territories (namely Istria, Fiume and Dalmatia) is the writer and poet Gabriele D’Annunzio.

He was known for his lavish habits and extravagant life style and there are many anecdotes about his bizarre character. He was also an egomaniac and, amongst other things, loved to compare himself with St. Francis of Assisi, one of the most venerated religious figures in Christianity, founder of the Franciscan Order devoted to a life of poverty.

It is narrated that, on one occasion he was underlining to a cardinal the similarities between himself and the Saint, and the cardinal commented: What you say is perhaps not entirely wrong. Saint Francis had the stigmata on his hands while, it must be recognized, also your hands are pierced. The priest alluded to the poet’s lack of prudence in spending money and love of opulent life.

D’Annunzio mutiny: the strike on the city of Fiume

The treaty which ended World War I, contrary to Italy’s expectation, granted to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (from 1918 to 1929, it was officially called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, but Yugoslavia its colloquial name due to its origins)the territories of Istria, Dalmatia and Fiume where the prevailing populations were of Italian heritage.


The treaty which ended World War I, contrary to Italy’s expectation, granted to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (from 1918 to 1929, it was officially called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, but Yugoslavia its colloquial name due to its origins)the territories of Istria, Dalmatia and Fiume where the prevailing populations were of Italian heritage.

D’Annunzio, after accusing the allies of having handed over to Italy a “mutilated victory”, at the head of an irregular voluntary force of Italian nationalists and ex-combatants, invaded the city of Fiume so that it could be repossessed by the Kingdom of Italy. On 12 August 1920 D’Annunzio declared Fiume an independent state, the Italian Regency of Carnaro. However, after the signing of the Treaty of Rapallo, which defined Fiume as a free city, the Italian troops entered Fiume and Gabriele D’Annunzio had to surrender.

Those Italian citizens who lost their citizenship due to the annexation of Italian territories to other states can reacquire their status thanks to the law n. 124/2006. The citizenship recognition for those people who lived in the lands of Istria, Fiume and Dalmatia has always been controversial due to the controversial belonging of these territories to Italy.

1. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

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Italy changed its territorial layout many times until becoming a nation-state on 17 March 1861, when most of the states of the peninsula were unified under the king Victor Emmanuel II of the House of Savoy.

At the end of World War I, Italy took possession of most of the western Slovene lands which encompassed almost one third of the Slovene population and included the region of Istria and of the city of Trieste. Trento and Trieste, in fact, were annexed after WW1, together with the cities of Pola (Istria) and Zara (Dalmatia) and the city of Fiume was annexed only in 1924.

After WW2, the Paris Treaty of 1947provided for the automatic loss of nationality for all Italian citizens who, on 10 June 1940, resided in the territories transferred to another State and for their children born after that date (art.19). However, the right to opt for Italian citizenship within one year of the entry into force of the Treaty was recognized to them. By 1945 Slovenia had also regained most of the Italian Slovene lands, but not Trieste.

After the Paris Treaty, the territory of Trieste was declared international, with Zone A stretching from Duino to Trieste as Allied territory and Zone B from Kiper to Novigrad under the rule of the Yugoslavs.

In 1954 the Allies withdrew from the two occupied zones and left zone A in the hands of Italy and zone B in the hands of Yugoslavia, guaranteeing that the citizens of the two zones could choose within a year of the withdrawal, in which of the two territories they wished to reside but relinquishing all property and assets located in the other territory.

The Osimo Treaty of October 1975 settled the borders between Yugoslavia and Slovenian-speaking Italy, accepting the de facto division of 1954. The Treaty solidified these boundaries while giving some protection to the Slovene minority in the territory of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

2. LAW 8th MARCH 2006, n.124: A CHANCE TO REACQUIRE ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP

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Law n. 91 of 1992, for the first time, explicitly allows multiple nationality brings to greater prominence the principle of ius sanguinis as well as the co-ethnic predilection for foreigners of Italian origin. These elements are also incorporated in subsequent law reforms. Among these, law n. 124 of 2006 aims at reacquisition of Italian citizenship by particular categories of foreigners.

Law n.124 of 2006, published in the Official Gazette no. 73 on 28 March 2006, is inspired by political and social reasons and it is supposed to be an answer to the tormented national history of the territories of Istria, Fiume and Dalmatia from the end of the WWII to the collapse of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the subsequent need to rearrange territories as well as persons.

In particular, law 124/2006 relates to the recognition of Italian citizenship for nationals and their descendants residing in the former Istria, Fiume and Dalmatia between 1940 and 1947 who lost their Italian citizenship when these territories were ceded to the Republic of Yugoslavia under the Treaty of Paris of February 10, 1947, and the Treaty of Osimo of November 10, 1975.

The law stated that foreign nationals whose ancestors were Italian citizens residing in territories which belonged to the Italian Government, given to former Yugoslavia (Treaty of Paris, February 10th 1947) can acquire Italian citizenship.

3. TO WHOM IS THE RIGHT TO OBTAIN ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP GRANTED BY LAW 124/2006?

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According to the law, the categories of subjects that are able to apply for the recognition of their Italian citizenship are the following:

A) Italian nationals resident in Istria, Fiume and Dalmatia from 1940 to 1947, whose property was confiscated and ceded to the Yugoslav Republic by the Treaties of Paris of 10 February 1947 and Osimo of 10 November 1975, and their descendants;

B) Former residents of Area B of the former Free Territory of Trieste, as stated by art. 3 of the Treaty of Osimo, which intend to avail themselves of art.17-bis, par. 1 lett. a).

4. WHICH ARE THE DOCUMENTS REQUESTED TO SUBMIT THE APPLICATION AIMED AT OBTAINING THE ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP?

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Documentation must be gathered to meet the Italian dual citizenship requirements, including residency as of June 10, 1940, as well as citizenship status as of September 15, 1947. Therefore, to obtain the acknowledgement of Italian citizenship according to law n.124 of 2006, it is necessary to attest the presence of the requirements established by the law.

In particular, for those who fall within the category referred above to letter A), the following documentation is requested:

a) Documents that prove that the applicant was residing in one of the territories given to Yugoslavia on June 10th 1940;

b) Documents which attest that the applicant was an Italian citizen (passport, etc.) when the Treaty of Paris came into force on September 15th 1947;

c) Declaration issued by any Society or Association, etc., which carry the following information: registration date, language spoken, or any other element that could verify the knowledge of the Italian culture and language of the applicant;

d) Any other document that could attest the knowledge of the Italian culture and language of the applicant (for example a copy of certificate of attendance of Italian language schools, report cards, etc.)

e) Birth certificate of the descendant(s) and documents that prove the line of descent with the ancestor(s);

f) Certificate proving that the applicant(s) and, eventually, the descendant(s) hold a foreign citizenship;

g) Certificate verifying current residence.

Those which, on the other hand, fall into the category referred above to letter B), must attach the following documentation to their claims for recognition of Italian citizenship:

a) birth certificate, international if possible;

b) certificate attesting foreign citizenship;

c) certificate attesting current residence;

d) proof that claimant was an Italian citizen on 3 April 1977- the date the Osimo Peace Treaty entered into force;

e) written certification from any Italian clubs, association or communities located in the foreign country of residence proving claimant’s membership, usual language used and any other element proving his/her knowledge of the Italian language;

f) any documentation proving that claimant belonged to an ethnic Italian group as specified in art. 3 of the Osimo Treaty.

Those which, on the other hand, fall into the category referred above to letter B), must attach the following documentation to their claims for recognition of Italian citizenship:

a) birth certificate, international if possible;

b) certificate attesting foreign citizenship;

c) certificate attesting current residence;

d) proof that claimant was an Italian citizen on 3 April 1977- the date the Osimo Peace Treaty entered into force;

e) written certification from any Italian clubs, association or communities located in the foreign country of residence proving claimant’s membership, usual language used and any other element proving his/her knowledge of the Italian language;

f) any documentation proving that claimant belonged to an ethnic Italian group as specified in art. 3 of the Osimo Treaty.

( Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash )

First generation descendants of people subject to art. 19 of the Paris Peace Treaty and first generation descendants from people under art.3 of the Osimo Treaty can avail themselves of art.17-bis, par. 1, lett. b).

They have to attach to their claims for recognition of Italian citizenship the following documentation:

  • certification or other documentation proving that claimant’s parent(s) or direct ancestor(s) possessed the requested requirements listened above;
  • birth certificate confirming claimant’s relationship with parent(s) or direct ancestor(s);
  • certificate proving foreign citizenship;
  • certificate attesting current residence;
  • written certification from Italian associations or communities in the claimant’s foreign country of residence proving the claimant’s knowledge of the Italian language and culture;
  • any other documentation proving the claimant’s knowledge of the Italian language and culture.

5. HOW TO APPLY?

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The applications shall be submitted to the Italian diplomatic-consular authorities if the applicants live abroad, or to the Municipality if living in Italy. All certificates must be legalized with the Apostille and submitted with the official translation in Italian language.

The applications submitted are examined by an inter-ministerial committee set up within the Interior Ministry, which provides its opinion on the existence of the requirements set by law. If the opinion is favorable, the Interior Ministry issues authorization to the granting of citizenship.

Sara Bocci

Law Diploma at University of Siena (2016), Master at SIOI (The Italian Society for International Organization) in Rome in "International relations and International Protection of Human Rights", she completed an internship at The Permanent Mission of Italy to the UN in New York (2017)

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