Europäisches Journal für Minderheitenfragen

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

The Autonomy of South Tyrol as Refl ected in Italian Constitutional Reform South Tyrol has a special status within the Italian Constitution. The Gruber-Degasperi Agreement signed between Austria and Italy in Paris in 1946 imposed international obligations upon Italy in order to protect the Germanspeaking minority in South Tyrol (obligations that were later enlarged to include the Ladin-speaking minority, as well). These international obligations consisted of the realisation of a substantial degree of self-government for the protected minorities by granting them comprehensive legislative and administrative autonomy. This autonomy is enshrined in the so-called “Special Statute”, a constitutional law based on Article 116 of the Italian Constitution, which defi nes fi ve “special” regions with a higher degree of autonomy than the other so-called “ordinary” regions, thus creating a system of asymmetric regionalism. In 2001, the section of the Italian Constitution that was dedicated to the relations between the different territorial levels of the Republic was reformed. The reform was aimed at giving more autonomy to “ordinary” regions and to local communities. In 2014, the Renzi Government proposed a constitutional reform that would once again reframe the relationship between state and regions. Both constitutional reforms contain a “protection clause” which in principle leaves the autonomy for South Tyrol unchanged as long as the Special Statute is not amended. This article fi rst describes the constitutional reform of 2001, concentrating on the effects and repercussions it had and continues to have on legislative and administrative autonomy in South Tyrol. Secondly, the main areas of the Renzi reform proposal are presented to the extent that they concern South Tyrol, followed by an analysis of the “protection clause” and the possible consequences of the reform for legislative and administrative autonomy in South Tyrol.

Seventy Years of the Gruber-Degasperi Agreement (1946–2016): How the basis for autonomy for South Tyrol came into existence in Paris as a particular form of internal self-determination In comparing the wording of the original text and its translations, the article highlights the basic features of the 1946 Italian-Austrian Agreement on South Tyrol, which only in part are in line with the by now usual irenic reading of the document. An appreciation is given in the article to the exclusive role of language, the difference between minority and group, the Habsburg legacy and the peculiar idea of economic development underlying the Agreement.

The Merger of Regions in France and Its Effects upon Alsace For more than thirty years, France has been in a process of territorial reform. Recently, the government of Manuel Valls that is currently in offi ce developed a new concept through the course of 2014 according to which the number of regions should be cut in half. The result was that through corresponding mergers, the number of regions in France was reduced from twentytwo to thirteen. While the territorial form of the regions of Corsica and Brittany remained unchanged, another important minority region, Alsace, lost its regional distinctness as a result of its merger with two other regions – Lorraine and Champagne-Ardenne. Against this background, this article deals fi rst of all with the region reform in general, its reasons, backgrounds, and effect, and it then analyses the causes of the inadequate results of the French decentralisation policy. In a second step, the author examines the situation in Alsace in this regard and the possible effects of the reform upon Alsatian identity.

What is a “Minority”? “Old Minorities”, “New Minorities” and the Sense and Limits of a Defi nition of Minorities under International Law By its very defi nition, the EJM has been conceived as a scholarly journal for topics from the area of the safeguarding of the cultural existence and identity of national minorities, doing so against the background of the minorities issue that has once again become virulent since the great changes in Europe starting in 1989/1990. Within that context, the focus – or, in any case, the principal focus – of the journal is the so-called old (autochthonous, traditional) minorities. This leads very generally to the question of what in fact is to be understood by the term “national minority”. At the level of international law, there has thus far not been any agreement on a legally binding defi nition of this term or any other used synonymously. In addition, there are opinions within the fi eld which do not consider a defi nition of minority under international law to be either possible or sensible and, moreover, reject a fundamental differentiation between old and new (allochthonous, especially immigrant) minorities. The author uses this starting situation as an opportunity to refl ect upon the sense and limits of a defi nition of minorities under international law, as well as upon the possible sense of a fundamental differentiation between old and new minorities. The article is intentionally limited to the legal perspective and is kept rather in a thesis style. It is to be understood as food for thought and discussion on a central aspect of the thematic area of minorities which, in the author’s opinion, requires going further into depth, in particular at the interdisciplinary level.

The importance of the audiovisual media for the protection of minorities – the example of the German- and Ladin-speaking minorities of South Tyrol In 1974 the Autonomous Province of South Tyrol signed an agreement with four German-speaking broadcasters from Austria, Germany and Switzerland (ORF, ZDF, ARD and SGR) for the free provision of their programs. As a result of this and the subsequent establishment of the South Tyrolean Broadcaster (Rundfunkanstalt Südtirols) (RAS) in 1975, the country was able to be supplied with radio and television programs from German and Ladin-speaking countries abroad. At the time, this was a pioneering measure, which recognized very early the importance of the media for the protection of minorities, which in the meantime has become generally acknowledged. The article attempts to highlight, starting from the South Tyrolean example, the importance of the audio visual media for the protection of minorities, especially from the point of view of language usage.

When you think of Estonian national minorities, it is usually the Russians that come to mind. Interestingly, however, there also exist in this northern Baltic country several autochthonous Finno-Ugric ethnic groups and among those, one counts the Setos. The Setos are a small ethnic and religious minority (a few thousand individuals), living in eastern Estonia as well as to a certain extent in the neighbouring Russian Pskov Oblast. They belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, speak a south-eastern Estonian dialect and have a number of peculiarities in their way of life and customs, e.g. costumes, dancing, singing, etc. The following article gives a short presentation of this people.