Wednesday, January 12, 2022


The eastern border of Italy has greatly changed during the two last centuries, since 1797 when the "Repubblica di Venezia" disappeared. Indeed the Republic of Venice's Istria and Dalmatia were Italian for a few years under the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy. After the Congress of Vienna in 1815 they passed under Austria and since then began the reduction (by some called "extermination") of the Italian ethnic group in these eastern regions of Italy: Italians have practically disappeared in Dalmatia, while in Istria they are reduced to a small minority! Only during the Second World War (read did Italy return to Dalmatia, creating the "Governorate of Dalmatia" (see the following map) between 1941 and 1943, while Istria was Italian after the First World War for about thirty years (1918-1947) even though it was actually Italian until September 1943 (or for 25 years).

Map of summer 1941 with the initial borders between the provinces of Zara/Zadar and that of Spalato/Split (which included Sebenico/Sibenik). Subsequently, the boundary between the two provinces was moved south of Sebenico to the border line established in the Treaty of London of 1915 between Italy and Yugoslavia.

During the first year of WW2 and after the military collapse of France, Fascist Italy entered into the war in the hope of a quick and painless war, which would allow the conquest of a large booty with little effort. In the summer of 1940, the armistices of France with the Axis Powers and the evident military difficulty of Great Britain, expelled from continental Europe, convinced Mussolini that the war against the main enemies was now over and that the time had come. to settle the accounts with Yugoslavia and Greece.

The historian Monzali wrote that having already given Pavelić the task of organizing the revolution in Croatia in May 1940, in July Mussolini ordered the army to prepare for the war against Yugoslavia and Greece and Ciano was ordered to speak to Hitler "about the need to dislocate Yugoslavia, typical Versagliesque creation with an anti-Italian function ». In those weeks, however, Mussolini's anti-Yugoslav projects clashed with Germany's opposition to Italian actions in the Balkans. The head of the fascist government, after thinking of a blitzkrieg against Belgrade, decided to postpone the project of attack against Yugoslavia, and then Mussolini chose to act only against Greece in October. The invasion of Greece and the Italian military crisis on the Greek front at the end of 1940 convinced many generals and Ciano himself that it was urgent to improve relations with Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav benevolence could bring important political and military advantages for Italy engaged in a difficult war against the Hellenic army: from the possibility of clearing the Italo-Yugoslav borders and concentrating all the troops on the Greek and African front, to any facilities for the transport of supplies to troops in Albania through Yugoslav territory.

In November 1940 the Italian government proposed to Belgrade to conclude a bilateral alliance treaty, an attempt to reconstitute that collaboration between the two countries that had ceased with the fall of Stojadinović in 1939. The initiative was not successful, hampered by the German hostility to any autonomous action by Italy in the Balkans and Mussolini's lack of interest. It was now Germany that dictated the directives of fascist foreign policy. During the first months of 1941, German diplomacy engaged in an intense effort to persuade Yugoslavia to enter the Germanic sphere of influence and to join the Tripartite Pact, an alliance treaty concluded between Italy, Germany and Japan in September 1940. On 25 March the government of Belgrade signed an agreement in Vienna which sanctioned Yugoslav membership of the Tripartite: the Yugoslav state committed itself to collaborate politically with the Axis but would not participate in war operations; at the time of the disintegration of Greece, Yugoslavia would have obtained control of the region of Thessaloniki. The resurgence of an aggressive Italian tendency against Yugoslavia was, as is well known, on German impulse.

The pro-English and anti-German coup against the government of the regent Paolo, which took place in Belgrade on March 27, 1941, provoked a very harsh German reaction. Despite the attempts of some members of the new Yugoslav government to convince Berlin of Belgrade's desire to keep faith with the agreements made in Vienna, Hitler decided to punish the Yugoslav "traitors" with a military expedition. The initiative was decided autonomously by the German government, without any consultation with the Italian ally. Hitler limited himself to communicating to Mussolini, on March 27, 1941, the German decision to attack Yugoslavia, asking Italy not to carry out further military operations in Albania in the following days and to strengthen its troops on the borders with the Yugoslav territories. Mussolini's response was to join the German initiative. In reality, beyond the rhetoric of the regime, the Italian participation in the invasion of Yugoslavia was characterized not only by aggressive ambitions against Belgrade, but also by the need to collaborate with Germany to prevent it from taking control of important territories for strategic interests. Italians, dangerously bringing the German presence too close to the Adriatic Sea.

On 6 April 1941 the German troops - and immediately after the Italian ones - invaded Yugoslavia, defeating it in a few days. Between 12 and 17 April the Italian armed forces occupied the main centers of Dalmatia. On April 15 the Turin division occupied Spalato/Split. Italian troops from Albania occupied Ragusa/Dubrovnik and conquered all southern Dalmatia in just 2 days. On the 18th of the same month the hostilities had already ended, with the complete victory of the Axis forces.

The political crisis and then the sudden collapse of Yugoslavia rekindled the Italian ambitions of territorial expansion in the eastern Adriatic. The disintegration of Yugoslavia - an event which, in April 1941, was considered by most to be definitive and unchangeable together with the future persistence of German hegemony on the European continent - finally gave the opportunity to reopen the Adriatic question on the territorial level and to avenge the alleged "defeat" suffered by Italy in the peace negotiations at the end of the First World War.

Starting from the end of March 1941, Palazzo Chigi began to receive memoirs and communications on the Yugoslav question from politicians of Dalmatian and Julian origin. When the war broke out, Senator Antonio Tacconi, political leader of the Italian minority in Yugoslavia, had left Spalato together with the Spalatini in possession of Italian citizenship. Arriving in Italy, Tacconi took action, in collaboration with his friends Dudan and Salata, to persuade the government of Rome to claim the annexation of Dalmatia. On April 14, Dalmatian senators aligned with fascism (Tacconi, Dudan, Salata) and some exponents of the Italian Dalmatian communities sent a telegram to Mussolini in which they declared that they were certain that "all Dalmatia would be given back to the Italians from Veglia del Carnaro to Albania".

On April 15, when the triumph of the Axis armies over the very weak Yugoslav resistance was already clear, Tacconi and Dudan prepared some memorials on certain aspects of the Dalmatic question, which Salata sent to Anfuso with the "request to submit the three notes to the Duce and to take orders for the measures to be adopted ». The first note entitled "On the extension of occupations in Dalmatia" was especially interesting, which dealt with the question of how much Dalmatian territory Italy should have occupied militarily. According to Tacconi and Dudan, "Dalmatia, in its territorial entity coinciding with the province of the Kingdom of Dalmatia already part of the nexus of the former Austrian Empire, represents a historical unit, which the various administrative subdivisions, to which it was subjected during the 23 years of Yugoslav rule, they have not been able to obliterate ». The government of Rome, therefore, had to take control of all Dalmatia up to the ridge of the Dinaric Alps.

It would have been unacceptable to occupy only a part of Dalmatia and to think of solutions such as those envisaged by the Pact of London of April 1915. The arrangement of Dalmatia conceived by the Pact of London - Italian annexation of Zara/Zadar and Sebenico/Sibenik and their hinterlands as well as various islands - met, according to Tacconi and Dudan, a strong resistance in the Slavic Dalmatians themselves «because it provided for an unnatural partition of the region. In general, even in the implementation of the Dalmatian occupations, one must disregard any easy return with the thought to the Pact of London, especially since the territory covered therein represented the minor and least important part of Dalmatia ". Nor could we renounce the occupation of important centers of inland Dalmatia such as Signa/Sinj, Imoschi/Imotski and Vergoraz/Vergorac, nor in Ragusa/Dubrovnik and Metcovich/Metković.

In those days at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs various notes were drawn up on the Dalmatic question and the Yugoslav problem in anticipation of future border negotiations with Germans and Croats. In a note on the Yugoslav question, dated 12 April and prepared by the Armistice and Peace Office of the Cabinet (Office chaired by Luca Pietromarchi, in charge of dealing with the Dalmatic question and Croatia, therefore one of the men who had to elaborate the territorial requests towards the new Croatian state), it was foreseen the future Italian annexation of Dalmatia, the creation of an independent Croatia, the partition of Slovenia between Italy and Germany, the satisfaction of the Hungarian, Bulgarian, Albanian and Romanian national claims and the reconstitution of a Serbian state, including what remained of pre-1914 Serbia plus some Bosnian territories. From the diary of Pietromarchi we know that in those days the Foreign Ministry was immersed in continuous meetings, being also the destination of visits by political and military exponents wishing to express their ideas on the question of the Yugoslav borders. Pietromarchi declared himself in favor of a program of large territorial annexations in the Adriatic, in consonance with the theses of the former nationalist and Julian-Dalmatian politicians. In his opinion, Mussolini was also convinced of the need to avoid any renounced solution:

Public opinion - wrote the diplomat in his diary on April 15 - is increasingly compact for Dalmatia. Limited importance is attached to union with the Croatian state. The Duce has realized that it is necessary to satisfy the general desire of the nation. In a note, which made me lose Anfuso, the Duce gave the instruction to consider the possibility of a large province of Zara that also includes Sebenico/Sibenik.

In April, the Berlin government also progressively defined its ideas about the future order of the territories of the former Yugoslavia. The pro-Croatian tendencies were strong in the National Socialist establishment. In particular, in the National Socialist political circles there was the desire of Rio to create a strong and vast Croatian state as a possible bulwark against Italian penetration in the Balkans and the eastern Adriatic.

The Austrian Nazi Glaise Horstenau, appointed representative of the Germanic army in Croatia, clearly stated to Hitler and the National Socialist leaders his opposition to the Italian annexation of Dalmatia. In his opinion, Croatia should have controlled the same coastal territories as Yugoslavia, giving up only the Cattaro/Boka Kotorska in favor of Italy. Hitler, who did not want to humiliate Mussolini and arouse suspicion in the Italians, chose to leave the Duce free to autonomously establish the Italian borders with Croatia, imposing, however, on Italy the most important decisions regarding the future of the former Yugoslavia. These transpired from the directives that Hitler gave to Ribbentrop regarding the future organization of the Yugoslav political space on April 6. Hitler wanted the Slovenian territories bordering Styria and Carinthia to be annexed to the German Reich, while Croatia would become an autonomous state, to be placed under Magyar influence. The northern Adriatic coastal territories, Dalmatia and Montenegro were to come under Italian control, while Bulgaria could annex Macedonia.

Hungary would have conquered the neighboring territories north of the Danube, while Serbia, without Macedonia, would have been subject to German military administration. On April 17 Ribbentrop proposed a bilateral meeting to Ciano to discuss the future of the Yugoslav territories. In Ribbentrop's letter to the Italian minister there was also the announcement of Hitler's decision to proceed with the definitive destruction of the unitary Yugoslav state and to push the borders of Germany south to encompass northern Slovenia. Ribbentrop's communication accelerated discussions within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the Italian territorial claims program. An improvised Commission, made up of Pietromarchi, General De Castiglioni, the Director of European and Mediterranean Affairs for Foreign Affairs, Gino Buti, and Zenone Benini, Undersecretary for Albania, met to discuss these problems on the 16th. April 1941. The Commission's orientation in favor of a massive annexation program that would ensure Italy control of the entire eastern Adriatic coast from Rijeka to Albania and bring the latter's borders to the Vardar River. Of particular importance was the question of borders in Dalmatia.

Pietromarchi, in charge of presenting some proposals in this regard, noted in his diary on April 16: In the morning Anfuso makes me ask if he can send the Duce a memo on Dalmatia for the afternoon. I promise you. While the officers of the General Staff prepare a charter on which the boundaries of the territories will be drawn, which will be distributed to the numerous states bordering Yugoslavia, I with Prof. Randi prepare the memo on the Dalmatian question. I support the maximum thesis. I have no indication as to what the Duce's ideas may be; On the contrary, I have been reiterated on several occasions that we need to think about tomorrow and the repercussions that a totalitarian solution to this problem could have on our relations with Croatia, but I am increasingly convinced that every half measure would lead to nothing. Anyway it is not possible to ask for less than what the Government asked in 1915 when negotiations for the Pact of London began. The crux of the matter is the following: if we give ports to Croatia we reduce the others, that is, those that will remain in our possession, to the situation of Rijeka, that is, we will deprive them of all their functions, since Croatia, instead of using them, it will channel its traffic towards its ports. To avoid this jattura, there is nothing other than forcing Croatia to use Dalmatian ports and therefore either all Dalmatia comes to us or all of it passes to the Croats. There is no middle ground.

Quickly prepared the memo, Pietromarchi handed it over to Anfuso and together they went to Palazzo Venezia to confer with Mussolini on the matter on April 17. The Duce read and commented on the memo in front of the two officials. Mussolini agreed with Pietromarchi's proposals: For Slovenia [the Duce] observes - Pietromarchi reported in his diary - that a prefect will be appointed while leaving it with the widest autonomy. It will have customs and currency in common with Italy. On Dalmatia, the Duce affirms that for historical, geographical, military and economic reasons it constitutes an inseparable whole that must be annexed to Italy. The Slavs, the Duce notes, came to Dalmatia largely following the Turkish invasion. They flowed back to the Christian lands which were generous to them of hospitality. The immigration to Molise of its Slavic colonies, which still exist there, is perhaps due to the same cause. They were perhaps the extreme points of this population movement. Similar causes pushed Albanian nuclei to come to Italy and in particular to Sicily. We will give Dalmatia an autonomous regime. We could call it the "Regency of Dalmatia" or the "Illyrian Kingdom" according to the Napoleonic memory or otherwise, but it will be under the Italian flag. If we come to a personal union with Croatia, we will be able to discuss with it the regime to be given to Dalmatia. The solution, I observe, will be similar to the one that Dalmatia had under Austria. Precisely - affirms the Duce.

Mussolini then clarified that Croatia would have no outlet to the sea and that the borders of Dalmatia should have been drawn following the line of the mountain ridge: The Duce replies that he does not intend to go beyond the ridge. "Our policy - he says - has always been that of the ridges and has served us well, as in Alto Adige/South Tyrol and as it will be in the case of the Canton of Ticino".

On April 17, 1941, Mussolini sent Ciano a note on the territorial changes to be obtained in Yugoslavia in favor of Italy, to be negotiated in the next meetings with the German leaders and the Croatian representatives. This note included the incorporation of Slovenia into the Kingdom of Italy, territorial adjustments in the vicinity of Fiume/Rijeka, the annexation of the entire eastern Adriatic coast from Segna to Cattaro, the reconstitution of Montenegro as an autonomous state aggregated to Albania, the passage of Kosovo and the Yugoslav territories inhabited by Albanians to the Kingdom of Albania.

After tracing the Italian territorial claims on geographical maps, the following day Pietromarchi and Anfuso returned to Mussolini. Pietromarchi reported to the Duce the concerns of the Ministry of War about the excessive narrowness that the Italian territory south of Fiume would have had "where the Velebit ridge had been followed". For the military, it was more appropriate to have an Italian-Croatian border that would yield the internal basins to Italy and "follow the side facing the Croatian Kraina". Mussolini observed that undoubtedly the border was irrational, since it reserved for Italy a coastline just seven kilometers deep: Therefore - declared the Duce - I agree that the border at least on the part south of Segna up to the Morlacca canal must be fixed. inside. This obliges us to incorporate a Croatian zone. If the Croats need they will make an essential question to come to a union with us we can also grant them this stretch of the coast.

".... If, as seems to have been decided, we will have a very long border in common with Germany, from Mont Blanc to Idria. The weakest section of this line is the one south of Tarvisio which will need to be strengthened in depth with the utmost attention unless we devalue the positions of Brenner and Dalmatia. [...] The principle of nationality has been reappeared towards us and to limit our requests. "We return" I observed to the Minister "to the concept of peace of Versailles, while we believed we were on the level of living space, which is the negation of the nationalitarian criterion "." It is evident "he replied" that they want to apply the principle of nationality to us and to stick to Lebensraum for themselves ". [...] The German attitude of offering protection to all the small states is evident. […] It is basically the usual tactic of all the victors of weakening the ally after the war is over, thus opening an era of dangerous intrigues .... .. "

For Pietromarchi, Italy found itself faced with Germany in a position comparable to that of Piedmont before the France of Louis XIV, "but without being able to count on the support of others to balance the excessive power of its neighbor".

On the afternoon of the 21st the Italian delegation met with Ciano, and Pietromarchi reminded the minister of the existence of the exchange of letters with Ribbentrop in March 1939, which had guaranteed Italy a free hand in Croatia. Ciano had the letters brought, read them carefully and sent the Italian ambassador to Berlin, Alfieri, to Ribbentrop to remind him of the commitments he had made. On the evening of 21 Ribbentrop was received by Hitler to discuss the Yugoslav problems. The next day, the German foreign minister met again with Ciano and reported the Führer's directives60. As for Croatia, Hitler had already established the Croatian-Germanic borders and foresaw the temporary stay of German troops in northern Croatia. Germany confirmed its political lack of interest in Croatia: the Duce could decide autonomously, or in talks with the Croats, the borders with Croatia. According to Hitler, however, the German state had great economic interests in Croatia and in the former Yugoslavia, a crucial region as a source of raw materials. These interests were to be secured through the restitution of the former German territories to the Reich and through the control of the chromium and lead mines in Macedonia and Mitrovica. Ribbentrop expressed a strong interest in ensuring that Germany would be guaranteed a safe use of the bauxite mines in Dalmatia. Regarding the other border problems (Montenegro, Croatia, Dalmatia, etc.), the German government promised a political disinterest in favor of Italy. Ciano reiterated that, in the name of historical, political and military reasons, and to guarantee Italy its Lebensraum, all of Dalmatia had to be annexed to the Italian state. However, he would have talked about these issues with Pavelić. The talks concluded with the understanding that the Rome government would provide formal assurances to Berlin regarding the protection of Germanic economic interests in the territories that would be annexed by Italy.

Pavelić tried to buy time and extend the negotiations with Italy on the borders to delay the cession of the Dalmatian territories and Kvarner. The Croatian government had the idea of offering the crown of the reborn Croatian state to an Italian prince in order to avoid or reduce territorial transfers in favor of Rome. Within the Italian ruling class there were two orientations regarding the Adriatic territorial structure and future relations with Croatia. Most of the Italian politicians, diplomats and military men wanted the definitive overcoming of the borders established after the First World War, a consequence of the alleged "mutilated victory". Often men who had fought in the Great War believed that Italy should secure undisputed and absolute dominion over the eastern Adriatic: hence the request for the annexation of the entire eastern Adriatic coast from Fiume to Albania, or, at least, of large part of Dalmatia. Not everyone, however, within the Italian ruling class and diplomacy agreed on the need for large territorial annexations in the Adriatic.

Some diplomats and state officials, more realistic, declared themselves in favor of a moderate and renounced policy on the territorial level, which would allow Italy to present itself as a friendly and protective power of the Croats and guarantee the inclusion of all Croatia in the area of influence. Italian economy. The Italian consul in Susak, Americo Gigli, wrote a report to Ciano inviting the government to a realistic and moderate policy towards Croatia. Through the ploy of referring the objections advanced by some Croatians, "with a certain objectivity of reasoning", to the Italian territorial aspirations in the Fiume/Rijeka hinterland and in Dalmatia, Gigli advised a moderate and far-sighted policy towards the Croats:

"........ Italy's distant political interest should lead it to impose a minimum of territorial sacrifices on the new state, in order to definitively become the spiritual godmother of the same, especially since the new leaders of this state have been placed in able to become such only from the complacent hospitality and the wide ten-year support of Italy. Not only that, but the political long-suffering of Italy [...] should and could be used by her as a good currency of exchange to ensure itself, in the form the broader economic scope to which it aspires is more substantial, even if less apparent; otherwise its legitimate selfish assumptions would fall. a large emporium. It is not by annexing a few thousand square kilometers of more territory that Italy will see the problem of certain of its supplies resolved and even less its plan of economic expansion in areas with an economy substantially complementary to its ....... "

In Gigli's opinion, by renouncing vast territorial conquests in Croatia, Italy could become the Protecting Power of the Croats thus managing to impose on them an extremely advantageous economic union for the Italian state. Italy could solve the problem of supplying certain products only by including all Croatian territories in its economic sphere, "through technical measures that could lead to a complete customs and perhaps even monetary union: This is a really concrete result, which, in order to be based on certain foundations, should presuppose a sure continuity of political influence. And such an influence would arise under the best auspices if, in addition to and more than on the close ties that unite the Heads of the new State to Italy, it rested, let's not say on the gratitude of the masses, but on the absence of reasons for friction so pregnant as a consequence for the future as well as that of the irrepressible irredentism of too many hundreds of thousands of new Italian citizens. That economic complementarity would act then, and only then, with political obstacles removed, a solid cement and a sure guarantee for the future."

Ideas similar to those of Gigli supported Carlo Galli, a former Italian minister in Yugoslavia. According to Galli, rather than annexing Dalmatia to Italy it would have been wise to create an autonomous Dalmatian state, which would have enhanced the cultural specificity of the local population by strengthening the influence of Italy, which would have been protected with economic and political agreements. It was also important not to humiliate Croatia, avoiding offensive forms of interference for national pride and aiming to strengthen Italian influence through slow economic and cultural collaboration, facilitated by a future customs and monetary union.

Returning to Rome from Vienna, Ciano tried to speed up the conclusion of a border agreement with Croatia. A future meeting was established in Ljubljana between the Italian minister and Pavelić for April 25th. Gino Buti was charged with preparing a draft agreement that envisaged close political, economic and military collaboration between the two countries. He gave up on the idea of personal union because, since Pavelić had become the supreme head of Croatia, "one should not ask him to renounce his office. " For the text of the draft agreement, the protection treaty that Germany had concluded with Slovakia in 1939 was taken as a model, replacing the word "protection" with "guarantee". Mussolini "softened" the draft agreement with Croatia, reducing, for example, the duration of the alliance from fifty to twenty-five years. On the morning of the 24th Ciano consulted with some generals and admirals to decide the negotiating basis for negotiations with the Croats. There was the hope of overcoming the opposition of the Croatians by promising them an outlet to the sea and between Fiume/Rijeka and the Morlacca canal. Two solutions were therefore prepared: "a territorially integral one from Fiume to Cattaro, one limited to historical Dalmatia".

Meanwhile Ciano asked the Berlin government to clearly communicate to the Croats that Germany supported the Italian territorial claims and would accept the results of the Italian-Croatian bilateral talks. The Italian pressures clashed with the Germanic reluctance to intervene directly in the dispute between Rome and Zagreb. Ribbentrop reiterated Germany's political disinterest in the Croatian question, but limited himself to sending a bland communication to Zagreb confirming Berlin's interest in a quick conclusion of the Italian-Croatian negotiations.

On 25 April, in Lubiana/Ljubljana occupied by the Italian army - in a city that did not appear hostile to the new occupying power to the Italian diplomats (and also had many inhabitants supporting the union to Italy), the Slovenian terror was so strong for the possible arrival of the Germans, who in those days were inflicting ruthless treatment on populations of northern Slovenia, made up of "looting, robbery, killings" - the meeting between Ciano and Pavelić took place.

The Foreign Minister presented the Italian territorial requests, centered on the request for the annexation of the entire eastern Adriatic coast from Fiume/Rijeka to Cattaro/Kotor. Pavelić replied to Ciano that the application of these requests would have had the consequence of "having him kicked out of the government". He made some counter-proposals, aimed at reducing the annexations of Italy in exchange for the signing of the treaty of alliance: Dalmatia of the Pact of London, plus Traù/Trogir, to Italy, while Split and Ragusa with various islands would be due stay in Croatia. He accepted the alliance pact and was ready to consider "the possibility of a personal union or a monarchy with a Savoyard Prince". Pavelić's proposals aroused the opposition of the military accompanying Ciano, rather inclined, however, to find a moderate compromise solution. Poglavnik asked for a few days of reflection and agreed with Ciano to meet again later to close the border issue.

Back in Rome, Ciano had an interview with Mussolini on April 26, to whom he referred Pavelić's proposals. Faced with Croatian pressure and resistance, Mussolini informed Ciano that he had changed his mind and was willing to make concessions to Pavelić. Ciano noted in his Diary that "Mussolini - except for Split - agrees with Pavelić, and rightly believes it is more useful to attract Croatia into our political orbit than to take a little more land populated by hostile Croats". He influenced this evolution of the positions of the government of Rome by the observation of the German coldness in supporting the Italian claims.

The supporters of the need not to give up even a centimeter of coastline in Dalmatia were strong and organized in the Senate, where the Adriatic senators Dudan, Tacconi and Salata acted. When Dudan learned of the change in directives in the pro-Croatian sense decided by the head of government, he had a very harsh and angry reaction, which prompted him to send Mussolini a note, dated May 4, 1941.

Dudan proclaimed himself hostile to any territorial renunciation in Dalmatia. According to the Dalmatian senator, «on the day that the annexation of Ljubljana to Italy is proclaimed as an" ethnically compact Slovenian "no one can think of the renunciation not of Split or Ragusa, but not even of an inner Dalmatian village which [... ] had for centuries the provincial and municipal administrations uninterruptedly entirely Italian ». Germany, Russia, Bulgaria and Hungary were taking all the territories they wanted, while Croatia itself annexed the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Hitler had given Italy carte blanche in delimiting the Adriatic border: how could the slightest renunciation be justified, "if we put the cross on Orlando, Nitti and Giolitti, who had allies and not allies against them?". In the end, the protests and invocations of Dudan, some politicians and militaria in favor of the Italian annexation of all Dalmatia had little effect. Mussolini put an end to the pro-Dalmatian agitation and decided to continue on the path of territorial compromise with Ustascia Croatia.

The Italian requests to create a customs union and annex Spalato/Split were unacceptable to the Zagreb government. According to the Croatian representative in Berlin, Benzon, the customs union would have resulted in the suffocation of the independence of Croatia. On May 5 Pavelić made a new appeal to Mussolini, asking him, taking into account the future political closeness between Italy and Croatia sanctioned by the choice of a Savoy as sovereign, the Italian renunciation of Spalato and a future personal interview. Mussolini decided to accept the idea of a meeting, but made it known that Italian sovereignty over Spalato was a fact that could not be discussed. On May 7, 1941, the meeting between Mussolini, Ciano and Pavelić took place at the Monfalcone railway station. During the conversations, the Croatian delegation managed to convince Mussolini to give up the customs union project between Italy and Croatia, despite Ciano's insistence on the importance of its realization, and to obtain some small border improvements. The renunciation of the customs union was explained by Pietromarchi with Mussolini's primary interest in ensuring a propaganda success for Fascist Italy with the annexation of the city of Spalato. In Monfalcone, at the end of the talks, Pavelić and Mussolini signed a document describing the future Italian-Croatian borders:

The Croatian government accepted the cession of Split to Italy and in exchange Mussolini gave up total control of the entire Dalmatian coast. The signed document in fact provided that with regard to Dalmatia, Italy would annex: the islands of Veglia/Krk and Arbe/Rab and all the neighboring islets, as well as all the islands in front of Zara the hinterland of Zadar, the cities of Sebenico/Šibenik and Trau/Trogir and their hinterlands; the islands of Tirona, Solta, Lissa/Vis, Biševo, S. Andrea, Pomo and other smaller ones; the city of Spalato/Split including the suburbs; the islands around Melàda; the district including the Cattaro/Boka Kotorska. Italy, on the other hand, gave up Hvar/Hvar, Brazza/Brac, Ragusa and all of central Dalmatia south of Spalato, territories left to independent Croatia. To sweeten the pill for the Ustascia friends, the future conclusion of conventions was foreseen that would guarantee a regime of autonomy and protection of Croatian rights in Spalato/Split.