Monday, February 13, 2006

Haider as a "Jewel" for Slovene Minority in Austria

Known for his dubious statements about Jews and Slovene minority in Carinthia, his praise of Nazism, his embrace of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, and for his personal charisma at least for Austrian people, far-right politician Joerg Haider, is a notorious follower of mockery and represents everything what Carinthia and Austria may be ashamed of. Facing political demise, only hate speech and hate action against Slovene minority in Austria may keep him in contention for Austrian election in September.

The history of Slovene minority in Austria may be read at, but one needs to keep in mind that in 1941, the Nazis banned all Slovene ethnic minority organisations and formulated a comprehensive plan according to which Carinthian Slovenes would have to be removed from Carinthia, an action which would finally solve the Slovene question in Carinthia.

Some 3 years ago Austrian constitutional court reaffirmed the Article 7 of Austrian State Treaty and concluded that it is constituional to construct bilingual signs with the names of the cities in German and Slovene in those areas where the Slovene minority lives. However, Haider as Chancellor of Carinthia did not put this decision in practice and one week ago even removed the bilingual sign at entrance to Slovene village Pliberg in Carinthia.

Today he started collecting 15.000 signatures for holding a referendum whether Slovene minority is entitled to bilingual signs with the names of Slovene villages. Now it may be the right time that Austria lives up to its international and domestic human rights obligations and prevents hate acts against Slovene minority in Carinthia.


At 5:57 PM, Blogger Matej Avbelj said...

Thanks to Jernej for pointing once again to the utterly deplorable practice of Haider and his followers in Carinthia.

Holding the referendum on which the majority would decide on the constitutional right of the minority to bilingual signs takes us back to the discussion about Kosovo. There it was claimed that the majority has the right to veto on the self-determination of minority who has fulfilled the conditions for the exercise of its right.

We discarded that argument with a contention that such an approach is a denial of the rigth itself, and it is per se normatively unacceptable as a denial of legal principle of equality and the moral duty of equal respect.

That is for the following reason: the majority can not be allowed to decide on the question which is of much greater intensity for the minority. Majorities are never interested in the pursuance of the interests of minorities. The bilingual signs are of no importance for majority: in the existing conditions they already have the signs in their language, while the minority does not...

All in all, one could also ask a question about the general symbolic message that the Charintian politics is sending. By denying the right to bilingual signs they are denying to Slovenian minority the right to be seen. In other words: they can exist, but they should not be visible. This is Schmittian politics as applied to modern times: if you are different, you will not be eliminated anymore, but you should not be visible...

There is no trace of accepting minority as being different and granting it the equal citizenship with the rights that could enable it to preserve its distinctiveness, which enriches the society as a whole.

Urangst von den Slowenen... That is what is all about.


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