NOVA GORICA | With its closure installed to look forward to because of coronavirus, the slovenian town of Nova Gorica has cut its twin Italian, becoming a symbol of the return to bitter border between the two countries, whose inhabitants are longing to find.
To the west, Gorizia in Italian, located in the region of Friuli-Venezia giulia region, with its 37 000 residents. To the east, Nova Gorica, the Slovenian, 13 000 souls. Two municipalities on the paper, which usually do not form a single agglomeration.
In these twin cities, the inhabitants have the habit of playing leap-borders without realizing it to make the gestures of everyday life. The demarcation is invisible since the accession of Slovenia to the european Union (EU) in 2004, and then to the Schengen area in 2007.
Then, when the slovenian authorities have erected a fence in the heart of the urban area in the context of movement restrictions in order to curb the pandemic of novel coronavirus, friends and families are found brutally separated.
Since march, residents, italians and slovenes had no choice other than to make an appointment with you at the centre of the town, on the huge “Europe Square” — Piazza della Transalpina Italian, to exchange news of either side of the fence.
“It reminds me of the time the post-war period, when there was barbed wire here,” said to AFP a retired Italian came to check on Wednesday if the right-of-way had been restored. The fence is still there: “It is so sad,” said the man in the Slovene language.
Italy has reopened its borders on Wednesday, and Slovenes, as all the inhabitants of the neighbouring countries, can now get there without presenting a medical certificate or comply with a quarantine.
But the reverse is not yet true for the inhabitants of Gorizia in the Italian, still persona non grata in Slovenia. The slovenian authorities have not announced a schedule of relaxation of the passages, because Italy has been one of the epicenters of the pandemic.
While waiting to meet freely, “people organize parties of badminton to the top of the barrier, are celebrating anniversaries, lovers find themselves to the coffee in the morning,” described the mayor of the slovenian of Nova Gorica, Klemen Miklavic.
The Italians are impatient to be able to make it next to slovenian, where many products and services, such as gasoline or the hairdresser, are less expensive.
“This is overkill”, regrets, to propose to the barrier, a woman Italian coming by car to meet a friend in slovenia. Before the pandemic, the two women were in the habit to have lunch together. They met again for the first time since at least two months.
“We suddenly find with a wall impossible to cross, we were traumatized,” explains AFP the Italian mayor of Gorizia, Rodolfo Ziberna, who doesn’t want mental barriers settle again between the two communities. “A whole series of serious problems for the two cities have emerged”.
In march, the Italy first imposed a quarantine on anyone returning from abroad, before to make an exception for cross-border workers, to the great relief of the inhabitants of the agglomeration. Farmers have had to wait a month to find their fields on the other side.
But the rituals that are installed on the Square of Europe have also tightened some of the links. Through the fence, a window was cut to allow it to pass objects, or kissing. Of the drawings, a european flag have been hung.
On a message, one can read: “The fence will fall down soon. Let’s not forget how the freedom is precious”.
“We have shown Europe that now, the reality is that there are urban areas in cross-border”, said Klemen Miklavic. “It was the fundamental idea of the founders of the EU in the 1950s”. Itself has held regular meetings with his Italian counterpart on the Square of Europe.
“When I was young, if I crossed the border, I said that I was going to be in Yugoslavia,” says Rodolfo Ziberna, Slovenia after the breakup of the yugoslav federation. “Now my daughter, she just said that she goes shopping”.