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  • 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: Rob Zaagman
  • Publication Date: 01-1999
  • Content Type: Case Study
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: The importance of national minority questions has long been recognised by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and this organisation has dealt with them extensively. Initially overshadowed by the East-West stand-off, minority issues were framed exclusively in terms of individual human rights, in particular the rights of persons belonging to national minorities. In “post-Wall” Europe, however, the explosive potential of many of them —e.g., in Yugoslavia and the Caucasus—became all too apparent. It also became clear that in this new era international violence would be mainly a consequence of domestic conflicts. Moreover, soon after the break-up of the Soviet Union the issue of the ethnic Russians outside the Russian Federation became an important factor in international relations in the OSCE area. As a result, minority issues are now mainly seen from the angle of conflict prevention, although this does include the continued pursuit of the implementation of human rights. The importance the OSCE attaches to minority issues as problems of peace and security is reflected most prominently in the office of the High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) which was established in 1992 to prevent violent ethnic conflict. Equally, it finds its reflection in the mandates of most, if not all, of the long-term missions the OSCE has established over the years, of which inter-ethnic issues are the main and sometimes exclusive component. These developments fit in the increased emphasis the OSCE has been putting on conflict prevention, playing the role of an impartial, non-coercive third party. Against this background, the tense inter-ethnic relations in Estonia and Latvia were addressed early on by the OSCE. Even though no inter-ethnic violence had taken place, a number of factors made for a volatile mix in both Baltic states: firstly, the existence of domestic tensions between a large minority of mainly Russians without citizenship who had to get used to postSoviet realities and a majority determined to preserve and strengthen its own identity; and secondly, increasing international tensions because of the active interest which neighbouring Russia, mainly for geopolitical reasons, was taking in the condition of its kinfolk in Estonia and Latvia. By contrast, these factors were absent in the third Baltic state, Lithuania. As analysed in the following, the situations in Estonia and Latvia were typically cases for which the OSCE High Commissioner had been established. They demonstrate the extent to which international involvement can keep domestic conflicts tractable—by helping the parties to devise policies and positions which avoid an escalation of disputes and possibly irreconcilable differences—and thus at the same time prevent the build-up of international conflict potential. They are also showcases for the specific approach the OSCE High Commissioner has developed in dealing with tense inter-ethnic situations. Although for reasons of space the main emphasis of this paper will be on Estonia, it should be realised that many similar issues are at stake in Latvia.
  • Topic: Security, Minorities, Conflict, Identity
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Baltic States
  • Author: François Grin, Francois Vaillancourt
  • Publication Date: 01-1999
  • Content Type: Case Study
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: The main contribution of the monograph is to demonstrate that it is possible to assess the output and costs of various language policies in such a way as to allow an explicit evaluation and ranking in terms of their effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. To our knowledge, this study is the first of its kind, because it stresses the role of common units of measurement in order to make it possible to compare policies. We have therefore attempted to develop an approach different from that adopted in many existing discussions of the implementation of language policies. Such discussions often focus on the targets chosen (sometimes elaborating on targets put forward in earlier policy documents), and on the specific measures adopted to meet these targets; sometimes they offer a descriptive presentation of the effects of such measures. For example, a language planning office may set, as a target, the increase in the level of minority language skills of all teachers and school administrators in a particular region, whether they do or do not work in an establishment which uses the minority language as a medium of instruction. The authorities can then adopt corresponding measures, such as the legal requirement that all schoolteachers meet certain proficiency levels in the minority language. If some survey, five years on, confirms that the average competence level of schoolteachers in the minority language has risen, this will be a satisfactory result, but a moderately surprising one; at most, it would suggest that the “technical effectiveness condition” (condition No. 4, Section 6.2) has been met. Such an observation would, however, be of limited help in assessing whether this particular measure is effective or cost-effective with respect to a broader end-goal, such as the revitalisation of the minority language.
  • Topic: Minorities, Ethnicity, Language, Identity
  • Political Geography: Europe, Spain, Ireland, Wales
  • Author: François Grin
  • Publication Date: 03-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: Switzerland is often quoted as a success story for its handling of linguistic and cultural diversity. In this presentation, I will try to assess this success: to what extent is this reputation justified? What are the conditions that have resulted in this very particular way of dealing with diversity in a multilingual state? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the “Swiss model”? Since time and space are too limited to engage in a full-fledged historical, political, sociolinguistic and economic assessment of Swiss quadrilingualism, let alone in a comparative discussion, I will eschew the usual presentation of demo- and sociolinguistic data in favour of a more interpretative approach, with the aim to provide the reader with an analytical, rather than descriptive perspective on Swiss multilingualism today. Much relevant detail will have to be omitted, meaning that this text will concentrate on what I consider to be the essential dimensions of the problem. However, additional information (including an array of relevant figures) can be found in the references listed at the end of this paper. This paper is organised as follows. In Section 2, I review the historical foundations of Swiss multilingualism; the corresponding institutional arrangements are presented in Section 3; Section 4 is devoted to a discussion of the current challenges that Switzerland is confronted with in its handling of linguistic diversity.
  • Topic: Multiculturalism, Minorities, Ethnicity, Diversity, Language
  • Political Geography: Europe, Switzerland
  • Author: Gianni Vaggi
  • Publication Date: 11-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Union Studies Center
  • Abstract: The paper is an introduction to some of the issues that the enlargement, both in terms of memberships and association, will involve.
  • Topic: International Relations, NATO
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Emilio Gerelli
  • Publication Date: 11-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Union Studies Center
  • Abstract: Building scenarios of the future has been defined "the art of thinking the unthinkable". And in fact the successful author of scenarios must be able to combine both an open and creative mind, and analytical capabilities to envisage different and sometimes counterintuitive combinations of actors, factors and trends. Our author is often also "heroic", since he knows that most probably he will be disproved by facts. However it is worth bravely accepting the challenge of uncertainty, since "illustrating the future by means of scenarios is a way to overcome human beings' resistance to change. Scenarios can thus open mental horizons to allow the individual to accept and understand change, and so be able to shape the world. Scenarios may help in seizing new opportunities ahead as well as avoiding undesirable effects of misconceived actions". In this connection a historian notes: "it is desirable, possible and even within certain limits necessary to forecast our future…However the process of forecasting must be based necessarily on the knowledge of the past".
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Tom Barry, Robert Weissman, Martha Honey
  • Publication Date: 08-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: Africa and the developing world are facing an HIV/AIDS crisis equated by the U.S. surgeon general to the plague that decimated Europe in the fourteenth century. Combinations of available pharmaceuticals-too expensive for nearly all of the infected people in the developing world-could enable many afflicted with HIV/AIDS to live relatively normal lives. Compulsory licensing and parallel importing policies could help developing country governments make essential medicines more affordable to their citizens.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Science and Technology, Third World
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Europe
  • Author: Tom Barry, Martha Honey
  • Publication Date: 05-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: The Foreign Policy In Focus project functions as a network of foreign policy experts. The following brief, written by one of the project's codirectors, benefits from the expert opinions about the Kosovo crisis from numerous experts and organizations that have contributed to the project's efforts to make the U.S. a more responsible global leader and partner. We see this policy brief as a living document that will be regularly updated and revised as this horrific manifestation of U.S. militarism and global irresponsibility evolves. The policy brief calls for the unconditional halt to this war of terror. Comments appreciated.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, NATO, Ethnic Conflict, Migration
  • Political Geography: United States, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Klaus Becher
  • Publication Date: 07-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The nations of the European Union represent not only one of the two most important economic actors in the world, but also include some countries of world-wide political importance. Half of the G-8 membership is from the EU, as are two permanent members of the UN Security Council. The responsibilities and obligations that, historically, European powers accumulated in all continents still have many remnants. The two big European wars of the 20th century were also fought in Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. Europe, while enjoying the benefits of a large, expanding internal market, depends for its prosperity on a secure and functioning global order.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Lebanon, Iceland, Nagasaki, Taipei