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  • Author: Sergiusz Bober, Aziz Berdiqulov
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: This Research Paper focuses on practices concerning recognition and non-recognition of minority communities in six European and Central Asian countries (Denmark, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Poland, and Tajikistan). Additionally, it also assesses the risk of misrecognition with regard to some of the minority communities resulting from these practices. The text is structured as a dual comparative analysis, first scrutinizing approaches to recognition within two macro-regions, and afterwards confronting them in order to identify similarities and discrepancies. This results in the identification of two “cultures” of recognition: a “strong” one in Europe and a “weak” one in Central Asia, with their characteristics originating mainly from differences concerning social, political, and legal contexts. At the same time, some features are shared by both macro-regions: hierarchization of minority communities, general limited access to minority rights, and sometimes a severe risk of misrecognition. Moreover, the paper argues in favour of formal mechanisms of recognition, a wider scope of application of minority rights (especially in Europe), as well as the strengthening of minority rights frameworks in Central Asia.
  • Topic: Culture, Minorities, Ethnicity, Community
  • Political Geography: Europe, Central Asia, Asia
  • Author: Nina Henke
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: In less than 20 years after gaining its independence from the Soviet Union, Ukraine has faced several events, which have shaped the process of nation-building. The Euromaidan, the annexation of Crimea and the armed conflict with Russia have intensified the ‘us–them’ line of self-identification of the “Ukrainians” versus the “Others”. Ongoing “Ukrainisation” is spreading insecurity among minority groups and endangers possibilities to establish a cohesive Ukrainian society with a shared sense of belonging. In the context of a multicultural Ukrainian space and the international commitments of the State to protect and promote rights of its national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, adopting an ethnocentric approach to the nation-building of the country is a conflict-prone factor. By examining and discussing identities in the perspective of the ongoing nation-building process in Ukraine, this research paper aims to identify the potential of the State and individuals to find mechanisms and grounds for reconciliation and integration. This is approached through a series of in-depth interviews and a complex analysis of current political guidelines on education, language and decommunisation.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Nationalism, Minorities, Ethnicity, Conflict, State Building, Identity
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine
  • Author: Ljubica Djordjevic
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: The paper analyses the texts of the constitutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia as a basis for exploring how these states deal with the (ethnic) diversity and balance between civic and ethnic concepts of nation. The four countries offer an interesting spectrum of different approaches, caused by different social contexts: the main feature of the approach in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the category of “constituent peoples”; Montenegro has opted for a civic concept; North Macedonia tries to balance between multiculturalism and a binational state; and Serbia juggles the concept of the nation-state combined with comprehensive protection for national minorities. The analysis shows that the constitutions struggle to various degrees with the balance between the civic (political) concept of a (supra-ethnic) nation and the ethnic (cultural) concept of nation(s), and, in essence, fail to contribute to interethnic interaction and wider social cohesion. Although it is clear that the recognition of specific group identities and accommodation of (minority) rights is essential for pursuing peace, stability, diversity and genuine equality in each of the four analysed countries, it is also evident that imbalance favouring the ethnic concept of nation and failure to establish stronger institutional links of common citizenship, inevitably leads to parallel (one could even argue “segregated”) societies where different groups simply live next to each other but do not genuinely interact, which is detrimental to social cohesion and social stability and prosperity in the long run.
  • Topic: Nationalism, Minorities, Ethnicity, Community, Identity
  • Political Geography: Europe, Balkans
  • Author: Craig Willis
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: Research on Gaelic language in Scotland has increased substantially in recent decades, as has Scottish regional development programmes following devolution. However, the overlapping of these two aspects remains limited, particularly in the context of regional development data available on regions where Scottish Gaelic speakers mostly reside. This Research Paper uses the OECD Regional Wellbeing index as a framework to measure regional development in Scotland at the level of council area, comparing this with its percentage of Gaelic speakers. Equivalent data for eight of the eleven OECD topics is analysed and the focus is placed on the three council areas with significant Gaelic speaking populations – Argyll and Bute, Na h-Eileanan Siar and Highland. The results show that these three regions consistently perform average or good across the eight topics measured, in comparison to the national average in Scotland. This demonstrates that Gaelic language is not a hindrance to development and the three regions perform comparably to other remote council areas such as the Orkney and Shetland Islands.
  • Topic: Development, Minorities, Language, Regionalism, Identity
  • Political Geography: Britain, United Kingdom, Europe, Scotland
  • Author: Craig Willis
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: This Research Paper focuses on economic effects experienced by Roma communities in seven non-EU states during the COVID-19 pandemic and states’ consequent lockdown measures in the first half of 2020. Roma communities in Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Ukraine, were all facing socio-economic exclusion and marginalisation before the pandemic and international organisations were warning very early on that Roma communities were at serious risk during the pandemic, including in the fields of employment or loss of income. This research paper uses primary data collected from a survey of 440 Roma individuals across the seven states in order to add empirical evidence to an under-researched area. The main findings include that almost 73% of them experienced a reduced income and the major reason for this was due to access to or demand for informal work was hindered by the lockdowns. Moreover, most Roma who needed to borrow money did so through private means (family and friends) rather than through official or state institutions.
  • Topic: Economics, Minorities, Ethnicity, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19, Identity
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia
  • Author: Akofa Boglo
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: Since the World Health Organisation characterised Covid-19 as a pandemic in early 2020 (WHO, 2020), the spread of the virus and efforts to control it have necessitated an ongoing restructuring of interactions between individuals, communities and entire societies. The pandemic has been an inconvenience for some and a disaster for others. Minority communities in particular have increasingly been shown to be disproportionately affected by the direct and indirect impact of the virus, which has highlighted and exacerbated existing inequalities. This paper aims to add to efforts to understand the impact of this multi-faceted crisis on societies and in particular minority communities through an assessment of the space between government and minority community responses in the Republic of Ireland. By considering how Traveller organisations have worked to protect the Traveller community, and the extent to which this effort was met and supported by the Government of Ireland’s ‘governance response’ during the first ‘wave’ of the pandemic, this case study aims to contribute to understandings of minority agency and inclusion in liberal democratic societies both during and outside of times of crisis, and hopes to show that moments of upheaval are not by necessity points of deterioration for minorities, but can carry the potential for more inclusive practices, processes and societies moving forward.
  • Topic: Minorities, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19, Identity, Travel
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ireland
  • Author: Ljubica Djordjevic
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: The aim of this paper is to depict some basic considerations regarding the protection of national minorities in light of the creation of larger municipal units through amalgamation reforms. The paper provides an outline of the European standards for the change of municipal borders, both the general ones stipulated in the European Charter of Local Self-Government and the specific ones prescribed in the two European conventions striking for the protection of national minorities. The topic is further elaborated through the presentation of examples of four countries that performed some sort of ‘minority mainstreaming’ in the territorial reform. Albania, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands have been identified as interesting case-studies for two reasons. First, in all four cases, the question of the effects of municipal amalgamation on the protection of national minorities has been raised and addressed during the monitoring on the implementation of the two European ‘minority conventions’. Second, the four examples offer a variety of approaches towards (more or less successful) accommodation of the amalgamation reform for the sake of the protection of national minorities.
  • Topic: Nationalism, Governance, Minorities, Reform, Local, Identity, Protected People, Territory
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Sergiusz Bober
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: The aim of the present Working Paper is to draw attention to the political activity of three national minorities (German in Denmark, Danish in Germany and German in Poland) concerning regional development. The analysis is focused upon electoral manifestos/political programmes produced by three political actors - that is the Schleswig Party (representing German minority in Denmark), the South Schleswig Voters´ Association (representing Danish and Frisian minorities in Germany) and the German Minority Electoral Committee (representing German minority in Poland’s Opole Voivodeship) - in connection with the recent regional and local elections held in the areas inhabited by the aforementioned minority groups. The conducted research leads to the following main conclusions: (1) regional development features prominently in the analysed documents; (2) each political actor offers nuanced conceptualizations of regional development; (3) influences of sustainable approaches to development are noticeable, as well as perceptions of development not limited to a narrowly defined economic output; (4) all actors are pragmatic when it comes to the potential political alliances necessary for the achievement of their regional development goals.
  • Topic: Development, Politics, Minorities, Elections, Regionalism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Poland, Germany, Denmark
  • Author: Craig Willis
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: This Working Paper is a mapping exercise of the minority communities in the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, with regard to the regional development within the countries. Using census data combined with a series of regional development indicators from Eurostat and OECD Regional Well-Being, an overview of each of the countries’ regions at the NUTS Level 3 is provided, as well as a comparison across all three. This research finds, through a series of bivariate regression analyses, that within and across all three countries, there is no statistical linear relationship between the percentage of minority population in a region and multiple indicators of regional development – including GDP. Rather, the main dividing line is between capital city regions and the rest of the country/s. Yet, in peripheral regions, the regional development indicators show that regions with a large minority population are not necessarily any worse off than other peripheral regions which have a low minority population – particularly the case in Lithuania. This offers some evidence that a large minority population is not a hindrance to a region’s development. Nonetheless, the research provides an overview of the challenges in which many regions home to a large percentage of minorities possess, particularly in the areas with a high ethnically Russian population percentage. Thus, this Working Paper concludes by identifying patterns and outliers of regions in order for intensified and comparative further case study research at the micro level.
  • Topic: Development, Nationalism, Minorities, Ethnicity, Regionalism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Baltic States
  • Author: Kyriaki Topidi
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: Europe is experiencing at present intense dilemmas in regulating hate speech and online harassment. Free speech exercise can be offensive and even contribute to a climate of prejudice and discrimination against minorities. Often, the media exacerbate the tendency by reporting negatively about minorities. The first working paper on this topic engages with the normative dimensions of the balance between the need to control and limit incitement to violence in reconciliation with the fundamental right to freedom of expression. Three distinct aspects of hate speech are covered: the first relates to the role of freedom of expression as a tool of inclusiveness. With the limits of liberal tolerance being unclear, just like the definition of hate speech itself, legal actors and systems are torn between criminalising the speaker’s motive alone or in conjunction with the effects of the speech. A survey of recent related European Court of Human Rights case-law demonstrates these ambiguities. The second aspect covered looks at the challenges of the regulation of the freedom of expression in the digital age, with emphasis of the online dimensions of the phenomenon from a legal perspective. The final aspect of the paper proposes an actor-based analysis of hate speech, as it emerges from the current regulatory frameworks applied. This section deals not only with the role of the State but also with that of equality bodies, political parties and private businesses in providing more efficient networks of protection of minorities from such violent expressions of hatred.
  • Topic: Minorities, Discrimination, Hate Speech, Institutionalism, Normalization
  • Political Geography: Europe