Europäisches Journal für Minderheitenfragen

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

Abstract The article begins by explaining the stance of science, politics and society in the Russian Federation with regard to the concept of “minority”, which differs substantially from Western thinking, and explains why the indigenous peoples in the Federation do not conceive themselves as “national minorities”. Subsequently, it describes different ways of classifying Russia’s national minorities, as well as the consequences for society and the political implications of these classifications. This leads to a discussion of fundamental aspects and problems of Russian minority politics, exemplified by the difficulties faced by certain minorities resulting in an often dramatic situation of indigenous peoples in the Russian Federation.

Abstract In light of constitutional constraints materialized in the 2010 Constitutional Court decision on the Statute of Autonomy, in the midst of an economic crisis and facing outbidding by other nationalist forces, the Catalonian government has moved from seeking autonomy reform through constitutional channels towards partition via a referendum on self-determination. Facing considerable legal and political obstacles, it has resorted to creating facts on the ground to achieve international legitimacy. Its justification is a far-fetched narrative on the “right to decide” based on an arguable “duty to negotiate” of the Spanish government with a territory where a significant part of the population desires independence (expressed through mass demonstrations and votes for nationalist parties). Such narrative mobilizes voters on the idea that unilateral secession is an internationally sanctioned right and that EU accession will be unproblematic. This understanding of self-determination is at odds both with the 1978 Constitution and international norms. To prevent a vicious circle of groundless demands and central immobilism leading to uncertainty, a strategy of reasonable accommodation and reform is proposed, exploring more flexible understandings and arrangements concerning sovereignty, autonomy and self-determination

Abstract On 27th October 2013, elections will be held for the South Tyrolean provincial parliament (Landtag). For the governing South Tyrolean People’s Party (Südtiroler Volkspartei SVP), founded in 1945 as an umbrella party for the German- and Ladin-speaking South Tyroleans, these elections will bring a change of generations. They also have a special relevance from a European perspective: Whereas the SVP still sticks to the idea of gradually expanding the – so far quite successful – autonomy, some (German-speaking) opposition parties have asked for the proclamation of the right to self-determination. The current paper discusses the nature of the right to self-determination and – particularly with regard to the case of South Tyrol – its relevance in the history of intergovernmental relations. By this, the author also intends to “bring back to reality certain idealistic ideas” in South Tyrol.

Abstract The current paper offers an introduction to the problems around the use of place names in South Tyrol. Most of the Italian topographical indications which are in use today in South Tyrol, also officially, were introduced during the Fascist italianization of South Tyrol after 1920. At that time, the original German names were even banned. Nowadays, the mostly artificially created Italian place names are being commonly used in the everyday language of Italian-speaking South Tyroleans, who make up one-third of South Tyrol’s population. Against this delicate political background, South Tyrolean lawmakers were hesitant to regulate the so-called toponomastics by way of a provincial Law (introducing the obligation to bilingualism, in accordance with Article 8 Z 2 of the Autonomy Statute). In November 2012, after decades of political controversy, the South Tyrolean provincial parliament (Landtag) finally adopted such an Law. This Law, however, has been challenged by the Italian government.