Gorizia / Gorica -
Italian - Slovenian borderGorizia (slov. Gorica) (Italy) and Nova Gorica (Slovenia) are two cities divided by the border between todays Italy and the Republic of Slovenia. The region had a complex historical development, where Slavonic, Latin and German ethnic groups were in contact and often also in opposition.
Nova Gorica was planned and built after 1948 and Gorizia became an actual 'border community' only after WW2 and the Paris Treaty (1947). Before that, except for brief periods spanning 1700 and 1800, Gorizia and the surrounding area had been part of two wider political-administrative units: until WW1 it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and, between the two wars, of the Italian State. Nearly all the members of the Slovene-speaking community master the local varieties of Italian. Knowledge of any forms of Slovene by the Italian-speaking community is very uncommon.
Since the Fifties, a very relevant role has been played by a sizeable community of 'Istria exiles' (Italian-speaking people who left the coastal-regions of Yugoslavia after WW2). For a series of complex reasons they became the champions of "Italianness", opposed to the Friulian and, even more, to the Slovene elements.
The first years after the creation of the new border (called "line of demarcation") - initially made of barbed wire and wired fences in some places - was totally impermeable and strongly guarded, particularly on the Yugoslav side. During those years it was a real 'iron curtain'. Only in the second half of the Fifties, with the Udine Agreements, was a regulation made for cross-border activities and four border crossings were opened in the urban area. Subsequently, the border became more and more open.
Today the border is weakly guarded, with the exception of the main communication routes. This is due to the increase of illegal border crossings. Immigrants from developing countries (Asia, Middle East, the Balkans) try to enter the EU through this 'door' between Slovenia and Italy.
As for Gorizia Municipality, the population in 1901 was 25,432 and reached its peak in the 70s (42,778 in 1971), then slowly decreased to the lowest point of 38,505 in 1991.
Since the 19th century the ethnic structure has changed considerably. Today the majority is Italian, with Friulians and Slovenes as minority groups.
The population of the Municipality of Nova Gorica has registered a slow but constant growth from 1948 to 1991; The population is currently about 40,000. Ethnically, the majority of citizens are Slovenes and only a minority are from other Republics of former Yugoslavia.
Since the independence of Slovenia in 1991 Nova Gorica became part of the independent democratic Republic of Slovenia, currently one of the aspirant nations to the EU. Cross-border cooperation further improved, also due to EU policies, particulary with regard to INTERREG, which is a very important means for the development of cooperation between the Autonomous Region Friuli-Venezia Giulia and the Republic of Slovenia.
Another peculiar aspect of this border situation is the presence of the Slovene minority on the Italian side of the area Gorizia-Nova Gorica, which represents only part of the wider Slovene community in Italy. The Slovene community has always contributed to the improvement of cross-border relations and cooperation. This is made possible by strong community networks which operate on economic, political, and social levels. The Slovenes in Gorizia have also faced a pervasive struggle for minority rights.
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