Rovinj Mayor Claims Austrians, Slovenes and Italians “Destroying” Istria

Lauren Simmonds

Copyright Romulic and Stojcic
Rovinj, Istria, Croatia
Rovinj, Istria, Croatia

The Rovinj mayor, Marko Paliaga, told local portal Glas Istre that he had decided to put an end to illegal construction and to investors who don’t respect spatial plans and dare to build without permits without any problems.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 18th of November, 2020,  said that all Istrian towns and municipalities had signed a declaration asking the competent Ministry of Construction and the State Inspectorate to amend local laws to allow local government units to control illegal construction outside of designated construction areas.

the Rovinj mayor said that they had sent a lot of pictures of illegal construction to the chief state inspector, but there has been reaction and the problems are only accumulating.

”I’m worried because there has been a lot of talk about the second wave of legalisation. This is probably why these incredible situations occur in which tents, awnings and large umbrellas are now being placed on agricultural land, in order to provide shade and create the illusion of an already built facility. We, by the way, record all this with a drone and we can’t understand how this is possible. Agricultural landowners do this consciously, intentionally, for the sake of ortho-photo shooting,” he said.

Illegal builders, he says, are mostly foreigners

”It especially hurts me that these people are often Slovenes, Italians and Austrians. They’re the most aggressive, arrogant and don’t respect our space. I’m the only minority mayor in Croatia, I’m Slovenian. And that’s why I can legitimately say that I’m extremely disappointed in Slovenian politics and actions regarding the issue of illegal construction here in Istria. I’m disappointed in their relationship with us. We’re almost fellow citizens, and then they, the Slovenes, behave so irresponsibly and ruthlessly towards our territory! Our Istria is not only ours, but also theirs, it’s also Slovenian, all the way to the border with Trieste. Instead of being together, protecting nature’s resources in a coordinated way, they disobey the rules and destroy it. I can’t figure it out and I don’t want to accept it. Both we here and the Slovenes are Istrians together. We should be careful how we treat the land as it’s our greatest wealth.

I think that the Slovenes are doing enormous damage to Istria at this moment in time. They showed that on Crveni vrh near Umag, then in Duga uvala, Barbariga… I’m inviting Croatian citizens to visit Barbariga and see how ready these foreigners are to destroy our territory.

We struggle, we work according to procedures, bring all kinds of plans to the table, as well as various studies on the use of space, we conduct public debates and then a Slovene comes, builds a weekend house where he shouldn’t and – nothing is said to anyone.

Here, the territory is being exploited in an extremely unacceptable way: it’s being permanently destroyed through the construction of houses or villas with swimming pools in the middle of agricultural land. I’m a mayor who would like to be allowed, after being elected through a direct election, to be directly responsible as well. Give us mayors authority and it will be seen who is responsible among us and who isn’t, who wants to work and who doesn’t,” the Rovinj mayor said, adding that illegal building is going on around Rovinj every single day.

”It happens every day, literally every single day! In the first wave, someone legalised a 50-square-foot facility, and now it’s being upgraded to 150 square feet! Tourist facilities are being upgraded. If we don’t stop this phenomenon, it will take away the competitive advantage and attractiveness of Rovinj in the long run. Traffic in private and hotel accommodation will be lost, spaces will be illegally rebuilt, our infrastructure will be overloaded and we will no longer have what we have, and that’s the preservation of space. That’s our wealth,” concluded the Rovinj mayor, adding that in neighbouring Slovenia, such individuals would end up in prison for what they do here, and that there is no end to this ”arrogance” here in Croatia because they are not effectively punished.

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