Date: Tue, 29 Apr 2008
Subject: article "Siege mentality"
Letters to the Editor
The author of the article "Siege mentality" (April 26, 08) Norman di Giovanni, writing about Croatia's Hvar island is one of those Italians who cannot reconcile with the historic truth that Italy does not own the Croatian coast nor its Adriatic islands. He minimizes Croatians by writing that "Slavs" came to that area in the 7th century, refusing to acknowledge the fact that these Slavs were Croats, not Serbs, not Slovenes, Czechs or Bulgarians. They were Croatians who in the 8th century became Western Christians and formed their dukedom and later kingdom from the 9th to the 11th century, recognized by the then powerful Papal state.
Yes, the Venetian Republic acquired from time to time parts of Croatia's Dalmatia but it became by no means a permanent part of Italy. Venetians were defeated by Croatia's Prince Branimir in 887 and had to pay tribute to Croatia for free navigation. Pope John VIII recognized him as ruler and Croatia received international recognition as an independent state. Byzantine emperor Porphyrogenitus wrote that during King Tomislav's (925) reign Croatia was an important military power on land and sea, stretching from Istria to Drina in Bosnia, Drava and Danube in the north and the Adriatic sea along the coast to Kotor.
In the 15th century Venetians conquered parts of Dalmatia and islands while the Croatians, then part of Hungary by the Pacta Conventa agreement, were fighting the Ottoman Turks' invasion, saving the West from disaster.
Mr. di Giovanni tries to drag Croatia's name in the mud by bringing up politics, writing about Croatian generals now being tried in The Hague, while not mentioning that Croatia was attacked by Serbia and defended itself, not occupying other people's lands. On the other hand, Italy and its fascist Axis allies in WWII occupied the whole Croatian Adriatic coast and islands, brutally killing and imprisoning many. The idea of course was keeping it permanently. His words of "Croatia's deluded quest and wallowing in the culture of victimization and politics of hatred does not apply to Croatians at all, but rather to the kind of Italians like Mr. di Giovanni. And yes, finally, when he writes that Croatian "propaganda" makes the absurd statement that "Throughout history, until most recent times, foreign invaders and aggressors have reached for this land..." he states the obvious, Croatia is a beautiful country and too many have wanted a piece of it.
Hilda Marija Foley