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Andrea Ossoinack (1876-1965) was a businessman and politician who became notable in the process of creating the Free State of Fiume.
Andrea was the son of Luigi Ossoinack, who was one of the foremost businessmen in Fiume. Ossoinack studied economics in England, and then spent some time at this father's company branch office in London.
In 1916 he was nominated (not elected) deputy from Fiume at the Hungarian Parliament. At the end of the I World War Andrea Ossoinack, on October the 18th 1918, at the Hungarian parliament, claimed for his city the right of self-determination. In this capacity he was also allowed to represent Fiume at the Paris Peace Conference, 1919, on the 3rd March 1919 Andrea Ossoinack was appointed “Representative of Fiume“ at the Paris Peace Conference, being presented as the “last deputy of Fiume at the Hungarian Parliament”.
Ossoinack was the ideal choice to represent Fiume. He was the foremost local entrepreneur with excellent business and political contacts with all the lands with which Fiume was connected. Deeply rooted in local political life he financed all the political organisation of Fiume including the autonomists of Maylender and Zanella. Moreover, Ossoinack spoke several languages and, having studied economics in London, was fluent in English. Moreover, he had the knowledge and information of the economy of Fiume and a clear vision of the future prospects.[editorializing]
Ossoinack came to the Conference with a Memorandum from the CNI with views similar to those presented in Budapest. The document begins with the claim that a profoundly unjust political system (the Habsburg Monarchy) founded on the principle of divide et impera was finally turned down. On the ruins of that system several new states were formed, and among them there was Fiume. “The State of Fiume is a living fact: none can deny it, as non can deny existence of a Hungary or of a Yugoslavia. Fiume exercises all the functions of State; this has been communicated to the governments of Europe and America; it freely develops all the functions of administration”. On this ground as a sovereign political body, a functioning state, has the right to be annexed to Italy, since this was the will of the majority of the population.
Andrea Ossoinack met with United States President Woodrow Wilson on April, the 4th 1919 - a day after the meeting of the Council of Four where Wilson resolutely opposed Italian pretensions to Fiume. Wilson added also new requirements: self determination in the eastern Adriatic area had also to produce economically viable outcomes. Andrea Ossoinack produced an economically grounded argument for the annexation of Fiume to Italy. His argumentation tried to show that annexation was the best economic solution for Fiume.
Openly he proclaimed that the free port was economically non-viable: it could have been made able to compete only if had lower operating costs. This was not the case - the port of Fiume prospered only because it was generously subsidised by the Hungarian government and this was not the case had it gained independence. Fiume in other words, needed a strong state ready to pour investments that its port heart of the city economy desperately needed.
In his reply to Andrea Ossoinack, Wilson proposed that Fiume had to be proclaimed a Free State, as a new solution. This paved the way for a relatively unknown obscure figure such as Ruggiero Gotthardi to emerge and to present officially in Paris at the Peace Conference his proposal for a Free State of Fiume.
When also the British delegate Balfour decidedly refused the project of annexing Fiume, the Italian delegation with Orlando and Sonnino on the 24th of April 1919, left the conference for protest, and wrote an address to Wilson that became a world sensation.
- Ossoinack, Andrea. Perché Fiume dev’essere italiana, Fiume, 1919.
- Ossoinack, Andrea. Perché Fiume deve essere Porto Franco, Fiume, 1922.