Ethnic, regional and national identities in the context of European cross border cooperation opportunities: a case study of Italian ethnic community in Slovene Istri
The article proceeds from the main research question about the effects of EU integration and cross border cooperation initiatives on the border region of Slovene Istria as a whole and Italian ethnic community in particular in terms of its socio-economic and cultural activity and identity issue. The authoress tries to expose the historical review of the cross border cooperation between Slovenia and Italy prior to the EU programmes and afterwards and the activity of the Italian ethnic community in the latter. Within the framework of the former Yugoslavia from the 1960s on and especially with the increasing openness of political borders, the political, economic and geographical position of Slovenia had been growing stronger: first in the framework of the Alps-Adriatic Working Community in the context of Central Europe, then in the context of the Central European Initiative, and finally within the European space as a whole (European Union). On the methodological basis of in-depth interviews conducted among members of the Italian ethnic community in Slovenia (Slovene Istria) and among members of the majority population in the period between August 2005 and May 2006 it can be suggested that the following three general consequences have been the most noteworthy from the 1990s to date: the division of the Italian ethnic community between two independent and autonomous states (Slovenia and Croatia), complicated further by the fact that only one of the two states became an EU member in 2004;economic weakness and dependence of the Italian community on government subsidies;European integration and cross-border cooperation opportunities. Finally, the article concludes with the perceptions of different ethnic, regional and national identities on the case under study within the broader European space with regard to the cross border cooperation incentives.