Traditional Italian settlements in Croatia currently number about 30,000 people, mainly in Istria and the Quarnero region, as well as in Dalmatia. The minority is represented by the Italian Union (Italian acronym UI) and has a seat in the Croatian Parliament. The community also has a publishing house (EDIT), a theatre company, a historical research centre, 46 educational establishments and 3 teacher training departments.
Istria is a bilingual administrative region. Many Istrian towns have adopted full bilingualism in their municipal statutes (18 in all, including Pula, Rovigno, Buie, Umago, Cittanova, Dignano and Parenzo).
The foreign ministry has a precise strategy with respect to the territories with a strong Italian presence. With a view to gradually intensifying the Italian institutional presence, two Honorary Vice-Consulates have recently been opened (in Pula, the main city of Istria, and in Buie, in the former B Zone), along with an Honorary Consulate in Ragusa/Dubrovnick. Visits by senior officials and coordination, awareness-raising and monitoring missions take place regularly.
The Italian minority has a parliamentary representative, the Hon. Furio Radin, now in his 5th mandate. The Hon. Radin has for some time also acted as the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights and Minorities.
The support agreement between Radin and Sanader envisages a commitment by the Government to reform the electoral law to give minorities the “double vote”. This would allow them to express their views in general elections not only on normal candidates but also on candidates running for the minority constituency. Other government commitments envisaged are:
- to extend the use of Italian in bilingual municipalities to the courts and other public institutions;
- to increase the funding for Italian minority institutions (especially EDIT);
- to fully apply the law on minority language education;
- to ensure that customs and VAT exemptions for Italian government donations to the minority are maintained;
- to enhance the promotion of cultural, ethnic and linguistic identity in the regions where the minority lives, for example by preserving names and place names.