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  • Author: Farimah Daftary, Kinga Gál
  • Publication Date: 09-2000
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: In Central and Eastern Europe, where language is the central defining element of the ethnic group, language policy becomes the cornerstone of constructing the identity of new states. In the multiethnic state or plural democratic state, policies aimed at promoting the language of the titular nation become the primary means of validating the moral worth of one ethnic group over the others. The example of independent Slovakia illustrates the political importance of language in Central and Eastern Europe and the virulence of the conflicts which arise between majorities and minorities over language issues. The continuous disputes between the Slovak leadership and the Hungarian minority over minority issues in general, and language-related issues specifically, have shown how sensitive language demands are during the early phases of state-building. In Slovakia, where the emphasis was on the ethnic rather than the civic dimension of nationhood, language policy served a twofold purpose: by giving the Slovak language a dominant position in the state, it sought to foster Slovak ethnic identity as the identity of the Slovak nation-state; and it was at the same time a method for promoting the assimilation of non-ethnic Slovak citizens. In reality, anti-minority policies in Slovakia (or policies perceived as such) fell within a broader set of anti-opposition policies as the State attempted to extend control and establish moral monopoly over not only language but also the fields of culture, education, economy, etc.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Slovakia
  • Author: Priit Järve
  • Publication Date: 07-2000
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: This paper applies a model of ethnic democracy elaborated by Professor Sammy Smooha of Haifa University, Israel, to Estonia, a case which is usually regarded as marginal in this regard. This application shows that Estonia can be characterised as a combination of a strongly-defined ethnic democracy (citizens of the core ethnic nation are dominating the other citizens) and a control system (citizens of the core ethnic nation are dominating the stateless individuals of non-core ethnic origin). As the number of stateless persons is diminishing, the system of control slowly disappears and ethnic democracy may prevail. The legal foundation of ethnic democracy in Estonia is in the Preamble of its Constitution.
  • Topic: Democratization, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Israel, Eastern Europe, Estonia
  • Author: Carmen Thiele
  • Publication Date: 08-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: Using the example of Estonia, the criterion of citizenship as a prerequisite for membership in a national minority and its legal consequences for persons belonging to these groups is discussed. While at the universal level minority protection is considered as a basic human right, at the European level it is still viewed as a right of citizens. The author pleads for a simplification of the naturalisation process and the renouncing of the citizenship criterion as a requirement for membership of a national minority.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Human Rights, International Law, Nationalism
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Estonia
  • Author: Kinga Gál
  • Publication Date: 05-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: The practice of bilateral agreements on good neighbourly relations was 'reinvented' by Germany after 1991 to guarantee the frontiers resulting from World War II and to protect the minorities of German origin in Central and Eastern Europe. A similar policy was pursued by Hungary with five of its neighbours to deal with the problems of the Hungarian minorities. Parallel to this trend, the European Union has also promoted a policy aimed at guaranteeing stability in Central and Eastern Europe through bilateral agreements on good neighbourliness. The bilateral treaties follow each other in time, structure and content. They incorporate soft law provisions, especially with regard to their minority regulations, reflecting the strong influence of the political factor. They do not mention collective rights and fail to provide the national minorities concerned with any form of self-government. Furthermore, they were often negotiated in the absence of the minority communities they were designed to protect. As these treaties are politically highly motivated, the political aspects of the implementation mechanisms have received primacy over the legal possibilities. The treaties, and hence indirectly the provisions of international documents enshrined in them, have the same status as national legislation and could therefore be claimed before national courts. However, the joint intergovernmental committees monitoring implementation have the potential to become the most effective implementation mechanism. In conclusion, although these treaties have not significantly changed the existing practice of minority protection so far, their importance should not be diminished because they contribute to the construction of a new inter-state framework for minority protection.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Regional Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Germany
  • Author: Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers
  • Publication Date: 03-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: Today, many thousands of Aromanians (also known as "Vlachs") live quite compactly in Northern Greece, Macedonia (FYROM) and southern Albania; and there are still traces of Vlach-Aromanian and Aromanian populations in Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia and Romania. In Albania, they were recently estimated at about 200,000 by the English scholar Tom Winnifrith. In Albanian communist times, Aromanians were not recognised as a separate minority group, officially considered to be almost completely assimilated. However, in the early post-communist transition period, a vivid Aromanian ethnic movement emerged in Albania and it became part of a recent global Balkan Aromanian initiative. The Albanian Aromanians' new emphasis of their ethnicity can be seen as a pragmatic strategy of adjustment to successes and failures in the Albanian political transition and to globalisation. It is exactly the re-vitalisation of the conflict between followers of a pro-Greek and a pro-Romanian Aromanian identification that serves to broaden the scope of options for potential exploitation.
  • Topic: Development, Ethnic Conflict, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Albania
  • Author: Stefan Troebst
  • Publication Date: 05-1998
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: Not too much of inside knowledge of the Balkans was needed to realise that the winter of 1997/98 turned the formerly autonomous Yugoslav province of Kosovo inhabited predominantly by Albanians into one of the most violent-prone crisis zones in Europe. In September 1997, a massive protest movement of Albanian students gained momentum; from November 1997 on, an underground "Liberation Army of Kosovo" (UÇK)) with an estimated strength of several hundred fighters increased the number of attacks on and assassinations of Serbian officials and police officers; and the regime retaliated first by police violence, show trials, long-term sentences, and nationalist tirades, then by bringing more and more security forces into the central part of Kosovo. In January 1998, The Economist depicted Kosovo as "Europe's roughest neighbourhood”.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Ethnic Conflict, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Kosovo, Serbia, Balkans, Albania