Europäisches Journal für Minderheitenfragen

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

Abstract Autonomy is widely considered one of the most effective ways of protecting minorities. However, problems faced by existing autonomies in some European countries have raised doubts as to whether this holds true. The following article provides – from an exclusively legal perspective – an up-to-date analysis of autonomy as it is practised in different contexts and discusses what can be its contribution to solving minority problems.

Abstract Usually the Balkans is not portrayed as a region characterised by tolerance, respect of minority rights, active participation and successful integration of all ethnic groups in state structures and civil society. The catastrophic events which shook some parts of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia between 1991 and 2004 contributed, decisively, to the creation of negative stereotypes. Yet, throughout the Balkan Peninsula several impressive examples of peaceful coexistence and cooperation between different ethnic and religious groups reveal another “Balkan perspective”, inspired by millenary history. The Balkan Romanian populations offer, generally speaking, a particularly interesting example of peaceful coexistence, cooperation and integration with other ethnic groups in all regions of those six Balkan countries where they live (Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, and Greece). Thus, they can illustrate interesting dimensions of multiculturalism and multilingualism in the Balkan region, from which important conclusions regarding conflict solution “in a Balkan way” may be drawn.

Abstract Dozens of millions of Europeans had to flee, or were expelled from their homes during the 20th century and lost their homeland forever. As a result of the so-called ethnic cleansings on the Balkans, their fate once again moved into the focus of public interest, especially in the Federal Republic of Germany. The flight and expulsion of 14 million Germans is one of the most traumatic historical experiences of the German nation. The Federal Foundation “Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation”, founded 2008 by the German Bundestag, aims at “keeping the memory of these wrongful expulsions alive and forever condemn the expulsion of people from their homeland”. This is meant to take place within the context of the Federal Republic‘s continuous efforts from its very beginning to promote dialogue and understanding in Europe. The planned permanent exhibition will duly emphasize the often difficult relationship between majorities and minorities in the era of nation states, which is essential to understand the “century of expulsions”.

Abstract Federalism is a regulating principle to be applied to state and society which allows the utmost pluralism that is possible in a common unit. Both the federation and the states must enjoy equal status and agree to keep the self-determination of the states as well as the loyalty to the federation, which also makes it a suitable tool for regulating minority conflicts. As part of the Austrian states’ efforts in strengthening federalism in Austria, at the beginning of the 1970ies, the states Tirol and Vorarlberg pursued the idea of establishing a research centre dedicated to the study of federalism. In addition to its research work the institute was intended to contribute to the spreading of the notion of federalism within the population by offering a wide range of information services. These considerations finally led to the foundation of the Institute of Federalism in 1975. The Institute of Federalism has since then edited a general publication series consisting of 116 volumes, publishes an Annual Report on the Situation of Federalism in Austria, organizes and hosts symposia and workshops and the institute’s library comprising more than 2800 volumes at present is open to the public.

Abstract In January 2013, EJM co-editor Franz Matscher turned 85 years old. In this article, the author looks back at some stages in the life of this “in many ways admirable person” who has received numerous honours. Stages in Franz Matscher’s life include working as a member of the diplomatic service of the Republic of Austria, as a professor for civil procedure law at the University of Salzburg, as a judge at the European Court of Human Rights, as a member of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, as director of the Austrian Institute for Human Rights (Österreichisches Institut für Menschenrechte), as an arbitrator in many arbitration proceedings, and as a member or head of many committees. During his political, academic and professional life Franz Matscher, who was born in South Tyrol, often dealt with minority issues in general and those relating to South Tyrol in particular.