Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Urangst von den Slowenen or Bananazing the Austrian (anti)policy towards national and ethnic minorities

On this blog we already dealt with insanity of legal position Slovene minority in Austria. (See

As we discerned it comes eventually down with most of issues concernig Slovene Minority in Austira to what Joerg Haider does or says. We can only repeat that he is 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. He 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.

In February Matej wrote that 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.

Haider has again today stated that Slovenia has banana minority policy towards minorities on the Slovene territory. Further, he submitted that his Carinthia may be a role model for Slovene minority politics. Haider’s disregard and contempt for national and international human rights standards is known worldwide and Austria may be an example for countries worldwide how not to deal with their national or ethnical minorities. He referred to European standards, which are respected by his regional government. It appears that Haider does not remember how his incumbent Government violates the rights of Slovene minority. If we refer only to European context, we can establish that Carinthian government in Austria violates not only the OSCE standards, but also COE Framework convention for the protection of National minorities and other COE documents, leaving aside the European Convention on HR and Fundamental Freedoms.

Situation of national and ethnic minorities in Slovenia is far from being perfect, but it cannot be compared and contrasted with totalitarian policy of Haider and his followers.

Now, it s necessary again to reiterate that is not for any state to decide what is minority/or who fulfils criteria for minority. It is up to minorities to identify themselves as a minority. Again, it is not for the state to say whether or not the rights of minorities are ensured, respected, fulfilled and promoted. Country which plans to hold the referendum on which the majority would decide on the constitutional right of the minority to bilingual signs takes us back to period, so deeply longed after by Haider.


At 5:19 PM, Blogger Matej Avbelj said...

For those who are interested in the situation of the national minorities in Slovenia and 9 other new Member States of the EU, here is a report that I prepared during my stay at the European Parliament. Enjoy it:

At 7:54 PM, Blogger ill-advised said...

Now, it s necessary again to reiterate that is not for any state to decide what is minority/or who fulfils criteria for minority. It is up to minorities to identify themselves as a minority.

I'm very much in favour of minority rights, but surely this position, if taken literally, is insane. If a couple hundred Star Trek enthusiasts declare themselves a minority and start demanding bilingual signs in Klingon, should they be taken seriously?

At 1:49 AM, Anonymous Luka said...

"Situation of national and ethnic minorities in Slovenia is far from being perfect"

I'm not sure I can agree with this statement. Actually, I believe that the rights of the two autochtonous minorities in Slovenia are in fact very close to have a perfect legal protection. However, that may not mean that the situation of those minorities is perfect as well, but that's more of a problem they ought to solve by themselves. I once had the chance to talk with a Hungarian girl that worked in the Hungarian Foreign Ministry's office for Hungarians abroad. I asked her which of the seven coutries where autochtonous Hungarian communities live had, in her opinion, the more advanced laws for the protection of minority rights. As I expected, she anwsered, withou hesitation, that it was Slovenia, but - she added - in spite (or maybe because) of this, it was also in Slovenia where the assimilation of Hungarians was the most rapid. Now, as a conservative, I believe the State has the duty to protect and implement legal and political rights of their citizens (which includes minority rights), but shouldn't involve in propperly social issues. So, if, say, Hungarians in Slovenia - despite the implementation of laws that protect both their language and their civil and political rights - chose to switch to Slovenian language or to abandon their Hungarian cultural heritage, it is not the State's duty to descorauge that.

At 11:17 AM, Blogger Jernej Letnar said...

Firstly, on this blog we ask our readers, who wish to post comments, to present themselves with their full name and surname in order to know with whom we are having discussion.

Secondly, in the area of minority right is easy the fall into populistic rhetoric. As I wrote it is not for the State to decide who is minority or not. However, there several objective and subjective conditions in international human rights, which the group needs to fulfill to be considered as a minority. Matej's report addresses some of them but two them are reproduced below.

COE defintion of national minnority reads as follows:
A group of persons in a state who: (a) reside on the territory of that state and are citizens thereof; (b) maintain longstanding, firm and lasting ties with that State; (c) display distinctive ethnic, cultural, religions or linguistic characteristics; (d) are sufficiently representative, although smaller in number than the rest of the population of that state or of a region of the state; (e) are motivated by a concern to preserve together that which constitutes their common identity, including their culture, their tradition, their religion or their language. (Council of Europe Parliamentary Recommendation 1201 (1993) on an additional protocol to be adopted by the Assembly on February 1 1993)

or one UN proposals for definition of minority:
A group of citizens of a State, constituting a numerical minority and in a non-dominant position in that State, endowed with ethnic, religious or linguistic characteristics which differ from those of the majority of the population, having a sense of solidarity with one another, motivated, if only implicitly, by a collective will to survive and whose aim is to achieve equality with the majority in fact and in law. (Proposal Concerning a Definition of the Term 'Minority'
UN Document E/CN.4/Sub.2/1985/31 (1985))

Thirdly, thanks Luka for your comments. I agree with your comment to a large extent and I was more aiming towards situations of ethnic minorities in Slovenia, i.e. Croats, Muslims and Serbs, and also to legal loopholes concerning protection of Roma people in Slovenia. As far as I know there Slovenia has no policy or plans to enhance the rights of those minorities, since they are all more or less assimiliated into Sloven society. However, some sort of law will need to be adopted in order to address concerns and rights of those minorities.

At 8:37 PM, Blogger ill-advised said...

Thanks for the clarifications. I'll refrain from posting any further comments.


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