Legal Aspects of the Position of National Minorities in Austria

No.3(2000)

Abstract
The present article analyses legal aspects of the position of national minorities (ethnic groups) in Austria. After World War II Austria on several occasions acquired the status of a state which is concerned about the protection of national minorities in Europe. The drafts presented by Austria on the international level must be considered as being very valuable and progressive contributions to the discussion. However, on the domestic level, Austria did not fulfill its international obligations as laid down in treaties which were concluded after World War I (Treaty of St. Germain 1919) and in 1955 (Treaty of Vienna). Concerning the Slovene minority in Carinthia and the Croat minority in Burgenland various language rights and rights in the field of education have not been enforced by legislative and administrative bodies. In some leading judgements the Austrian Constitutional Court has confirmed the deficiencies in the Austrian system for the protection of minorities. In the last decade the political actors have become more sensitive to the problems of national minorities in Austria. In the next years it will be necessary to find a transparent legislative solution which fully complies with Austria’s international obligations.

Keywords:
National minorities; Austria; ethnic groups
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