Europäisches Journal für Minderheitenfragen

ISSN 1865-1089 (Print)
ISSN 1865-1097 (Online)

Abstract Since the middle of 2015, the current refugee crisis is affecting Europe, and the open-minded European media society appears to be many-voiced, but largely helpless to encounter the high number of refugees. The reactions vary from a “welcoming culture” to the “building of a wall”. And yet, the 20th century has already passed into history as “century of the world’s refugee problem”. Displacements, relocations, and deportations were regarded as appropriate means of the politics in order to create homogeneous nation-states and to allegedly ease troubled regions. The article attempts to link the historical aspects with current developments.

Abstract This article describes the ancient and composite nature of the Armenian diaspora in Europe and provides an explanation for its formation and relative resilience over time. It describes how, starting in the fifth century AD, successive waves of migration drove substantial numbers of Armenians into continental Europe, where they established communities and imported religious, cultural, and economic institutions from their places of origin. Additionally, the article explains how, from the late Middle Ages to the Modern era, Armenians developed a far-ranging network of merchants as well as networks of cultural and intellectual centres that contributed to sustaining Armenian communities. These networks provided resources to individuals and to institutions and connected them to one another across borders, thus promoting a sense of common identity and destiny. Finally, those networks and the place of the Armenians in European societies were transformed in the twentieth century as a result of new, substantial waves of migrants and of the transformation of Europe’s political and economic landscape. Some of the communities that exist in different European countries today as a result are also described briefly.

Abstract The German expellees from Eastern and East-Central European regions, one half having been part of the German-Prussian nation-state, the other half ethnic minority, after World War II became a social minority in the new Federal Republic of Germany. Failing with the attempt to achieve the status of a public body authorized by the state - with seats in the Federal Council -, they kept on being a significant but “normal” democratic minority of 17–18 % of the population. The consequences of this persistent minority-status in the political field were severe, when the state tried to share the material burdens of the war between the expellees and the indigenous Western German people. The Equalization of Burdens Act in 1952, promising payments to the expellees growing with the economic capabilities of the state, was not accomplished wholly and fell behind the “economic miracle” by far. The essay discusses the reasons for this development, from the dissensions in the organizations of expellees via the predominance of the Federal Ministry of Finance over the implementation of the Act through to the role of the political parties.

Abstract The article aims to give an overview on the current status of minorities in Romania, concentrating on both the Hungarian minority and the precarious situation of Roma population in a broader perspective. Minority issues coincide with strong cross border migration, its repercussions and its resulting problems, with economic disparities between Romanian regions, and with social distortions. These three problem areas only might be understood when contextualized.

Abstract In present-day Lithuania, Poles are the greatest minority, counting approx. 7 % of Lithuanian’s inhabitants, having an official status as citizens of Lithuania. Their political party has a stable position in the state, temporarily it even had been a part of Lithuanian government. Lithuanian Poles are in the Southeastern regions of Lithuania concentrated, i.e. the area around Vilnius. As a result of shared history with Poles and Belorussians, members of the minority do not only speak Polish or Lithuanian, but also the so-called “simple language”, which means a variety of various mixed forms between Polish, Lithuanian, Belorussian, and Russian languages. In former times, the common history shared by Poles and Lithuanians has caused vivid quarrels whose remnants are visible today; even nowadays, Lithuanians in some cases describe Lithuanian Poles as occupants because of the coup militaire of the Polish general Żeligowski who had won Vilnius and the Vilnius area for the Polish State after World War I. The population exchange from Poles to Lithuanians after World War II was a taboo until the beginning of the 21st century. Today, among the most discussed points belongs the status of Polish language in minority schools, names of individuals and places in official documents and - an important point in catholic Lithuania - quarrels between Lithuanian and Polish Catholics in organisational questions of the Church.

Abstract Judaism of Hungary finds itself at the beginning of the 21st century in an extremely complicated and contradictory situation. Already the question mark in the title indicates the problem formulation of the status of the Hungarian Jews picked out as a central theme for about 150 years. The political turn about 1989 opened unexpectedly new perspectives in the self-realisation and identity of the Hungarian Jews which were perceived, nevertheless, differently. Already in the 19th century, the Jewish minority was split and evolved in the course of the 20th century, in particular subsequently of the Holocaust and the post-war period up to the end of the century, to an exceedingly heterogeneous religious, but also social entity. A renewed turn to the Jewish culture, tradition, and religion is to be noted only after 1990 again, interestingly predominantly in the circle of the Jewish youngsters whose parents had put under taboo, concealed or declined their Jewish identity. The diversity and plurality of the Hungarian Judaism as a result of a long historical and social development in the 21st century can be looked at as a report of its extraordinary vitality; nevertheless, the internal disunity makes it difficult to adopt a unified position towards the stronger and stronger growing Hungarian national rhetoric.

Abstract In 2011, the European Commission adopted the Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020 which was a reaction to the failure of similar national strategies of its member countries and continuing discrimination and segregation of Roma in these countries. The main objectives of the European strategy are to combat discrimination and to ensure social and economic inclusion of Roma into the majority society. The main aim of the article is to give an overview of the cooperation between the European Union and its member states on the issue of Roma integration. To be more concrete, such kind of cooperation is analysed more thoroughly on the example of the Czech Republic, for which the inclusion of Roma is one of the most important tasks of its social development goals. Moreover, this country has been several times criticised by the European Union for its insufficient endeavour regarding the integration of Roma. The National Roma Integration Strategy by 2020 is aimed to improve the situation of Roma especially in the subjects of housing, health care, work and education. However, this strategy is also criticised by national NGOs from the point of view of both financial and institutional support.

Abstract Artur Mas, the former Prime Minister of Catalonia, and two of his former ministers have been sentenced for contempt of court because they have not stopped the process of participation that cumulated in November 2014 in consulting the electorate on the issue of Catalan independence. They had received an order by the Spanish Constitutional Court to get the government out of this process; however, according to the sentence, they did not comply, and contributed to make the ballot boxes available to the electorate. Our chronological article recalls the events and follows the Courts proceedings. The article also links this juridical process to another one: the political sovereigntist “process”. It highlights the different milestones on the road map to prepare Catalonia for independence, and the juridical and political measures taken to prevent the Catalans to proceed on this road.

Abstract During the reform process of the Carinthian Constitution the coalition parties had agreed that in the new regional constitution also the Slovenian minority would be included, stating literally that: “The region of Carinthia avows itself to its grown linguistic and cultural diversity. Language and culture, traditions and cultural heritage must be respected, protected and promoted. It is the duty of the region and the municipalities to have equal regards for its German- and Slovenian-speaking citizens.” Since the compromise in 2011 on the place-name signs, the climate in Carinthia has clearly changed for the better. With the draft constitution, Carinthia had the chance to realize a peaceful, equitable and future-oriented coexistence of minority and majority in the Alps-Adria-Region. From this draft agreement the Carinthian Conservatives (ÖVP) have now withdrawn. This has deeply shocked the members of the Slovenian minority but also legal experts, NGO representatives and media. Especially because the new compromise, making German as the only official language of the region, constitutes a denial of historical circumstances and would be a step back to the minority policy of the last decades.

Abstract After the First World War Transylvania became part of Romania. Soon the state authorities begun a forced Romanization, and as part of that process a substantial part of the properties of the traditional Hungarian Churches was confiscated. The process was as unclear as possible, beginning with laws listing properties that were taken in the property of the state and ending with forced “donations”. After 1989, Romania committed herself to restitute all the properties taken away abusively, but that process in the case of the Hungarian Churches is slow and ambiguous. Even more, if we take a closer look we can observe that while most of those properties are still not restituted, the state makes substantial donations to the Orthodox Church, which is a clear act of discrimination. That is clearly bad news for the Hungarian Churches (and also to the whole Hungarian community of the country), but the situation is turning even worse, as there are already two cases of re-nationalization: two buildings that were returned to their previous and legal owner were taken back in public property, despite all the evidences proving that there were confiscated from the Churches.