Since the middle of 2015, the current refugee crisis is affecting Europe,
and the open-minded European media society appears to be many-voiced, but
largely helpless to encounter the high number of refugees. The reactions vary
from a “welcoming culture” to the “building of a wall”.
And yet, the 20th century has already passed into history as “century of the
world’s refugee problem”. Displacements, relocations, and deportations were regarded
as appropriate means of the politics in order to create homogeneous
nation-states and to allegedly ease troubled regions. The article attempts to link
the historical aspects with current developments.
This article describes the ancient and composite nature of the Armenian
diaspora in Europe and provides an explanation for its formation and
relative resilience over time. It describes how, starting in the fi fth century AD,
successive waves of migration drove substantial numbers of Armenians into
continental Europe, where they established communities and imported religious,
cultural, and economic institutions from their places of origin.
Additionally, the article explains how, from the late Middle Ages to the Modern
era, Armenians developed a far-ranging network of merchants as well as
networks of cultural and intellectual centres that contributed to sustaining Armenian
communities. These networks provided resources to individuals and to
institutions and connected them to one another across borders, thus promoting
a sense of common identity and destiny.
Finally, those networks and the place of the Armenians in European societies
were transformed in the twentieth century as a result of new, substantial waves
of migrants and of the transformation of Europe’s political and economic landscape.
Some of the communities that exist in different European countries today
as a result are also described briefly.
The German expellees from Eastern and East-Central European regions,
one half having been part of the German-Prussian nation-state, the other
half ethnic minority, after World War II became a social minority in the new
Federal Republic of Germany. Failing with the attempt to achieve the status of
a public body authorized by the state – with seats in the Federal Council –, they
kept on being a signifi cant but “normal” democratic minority of 17–18 % of the
population. The consequences of this persistent minority-status in the political
field were severe, when the state tried to share the material burdens of the war
between the expellees and the indigenous Western German people. The Equalization
of Burdens Act in 1952, promising payments to the expellees growing
with the economic capabilities of the state, was not accomplished wholly and fell
behind the “economic miracle” by far. The essay discusses the reasons for this
development, from the dissensions in the organizations of expellees via the predominance
of the Federal Ministry of Finance over the implementation of the
Act through to the role of the political parties.
The article aims to give an overview on the current status of minorities
in Romania, concentrating on both the Hungarian minority and the precarious
situation of Roma population in a broader perspective. Minority issues coincide
with strong cross border migration, its repercussions and its resulting problems,
with economic disparities between Romanian regions, and with social distortions.
These three problem areas only might be understood when contextualized.
In present-day Lithuania, Poles are the greatest minority, counting
approx. 7 % of Lithuanian’s inhabitants, having an official status as citizens of
Lithuania. Their political party has a stable position in the state, temporarily it
even had been a part of Lithuanian government. Lithuanian Poles are in the
Southeastern regions of Lithuania concentrated, i.e. the area around Vilnius. As
a result of shared history with Poles and Belorussians, members of the minority
do not only speak Polish or Lithuanian, but also the so-called “simple language”,
which means a variety of various mixed forms between Polish, Lithuanian, Belorussian,
and Russian languages. In former times, the common history shared
by Poles and Lithuanians has caused vivid quarrels whose remnants are visible
today; even nowadays, Lithuanians in some cases describe Lithuanian Poles as
occupants because of the coup militaire of the Polish general Żeligowski who
had won Vilnius and the Vilnius area for the Polish State after World War I. The
population exchange from Poles to Lithuanians after World War II was a taboo
until the beginning of the 21st century. Today, among the most discussed points
belongs the status of Polish language in minority schools, names of individuals
and places in official documents and – an important point in catholic Lithuania –
quarrels between Lithuanian and Polish Catholics in organisational questions of
Judaism of Hungary fi nds itself at the beginning of the 21st century in
an extremely complicated and contradictory situation. Already the question mark in
the title indicates the problem formulation of the status of the Hungarian Jews
picked out as a central theme for about 150 years. The political turn about 1989
opened unexpectedly new perspectives in the self-realisation and identity of the
Hungarian Jews which were perceived, nevertheless, differently.
Already in the 19th century, the Jewish minority was split and evolved in the
course of the 20th century, in particular subsequently of the Holocaust and the
post-war period up to the end of the century, to an exceedingly heterogeneous
religious, but also social entity. A renewed turn to the Jewish culture, tradition,
and religion is to be noted only after 1990 again, interestingly predominantly in
the circle of the Jewish youngsters whose parents had put under taboo, concealed
or declined their Jewish identity.
The diversity and plurality of the Hungarian Judaism as a result of a long
historical and social development in the 21st century can be looked at as a report
of its extraordinary vitality; nevertheless, the internal disunity makes it difficult
to adopt a unifi ed position towards the stronger and stronger growing Hungarian
In 2011, the European Commission adopted the Framework for National
Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020 which was a reaction to the failure of similar
national strategies of its member countries and continuing discrimination and
segregation of Roma in these countries. The main objectives of the European
strategy are to combat discrimination and to ensure social and economic inclusion
of Roma into the majority society. The main aim of the article is to give
an overview of the cooperation between the European Union and its member
states on the issue of Roma integration. To be more concrete, such kind of cooperation
is analysed more thoroughly on the example of the Czech Republic,
for which the inclusion of Roma is one of the most important tasks of its social
development goals. Moreover, this country has been several times criticised by
the European Union for its insuffi cient endeavour regarding the integration of
Roma. The National Roma Integration Strategy by 2020 is aimed to improve the
situation of Roma especially in the subjects of housing, health care, work and
education. However, this strategy is also criticised by national NGOs from the
point of view of both fi nancial and institutional support.
Artur Mas, the former Prime Minister of Catalonia, and two of his former
ministers have been sentenced for contempt of court because they have not
stopped the process of participation that cumulated in November 2014 in consulting
the electorate on the issue of Catalan independence. They had received
an order by the Spanish Constitutional Court to get the government out of this
process; however, according to the sentence, they did not comply, and contributed
to make the ballot boxes available to the electorate. Our chronological article
recalls the events and follows the Courts proceedings. The article also links this
juridical process to another one: the political sovereigntist “process”. It highlights
the different milestones on the road map to prepare Catalonia for independence,
and the juridical and political measures taken to prevent the Catalans to proceed
on this road.
During the reform process of the Carinthian Constitution the coalition
parties had agreed that in the new regional constitution also the Slovenian minority
would be included, stating literally that:
“The region of Carinthia avows itself to its grown linguistic and cultural diversity.
Language and culture, traditions and cultural heritage must be respected, protected
and promoted. It is the duty of the region and the municipalities to have equal
regards for its German- and Slovenian-speaking citizens.”
Since the compromise in 2011 on the place-name signs, the climate in Carinthia
has clearly changed for the better. With the draft constitution, Carinthia had the
chance to realize a peaceful, equitable and future-oriented coexistence of minority
and majority in the Alps-Adria-Region. From this draft agreement the Carinthian
Conservatives (ÖVP) have now withdrawn. This has deeply shocked the
members of the Slovenian minority but also legal experts, NGO representatives
and media. Especially because the new compromise, making German as the only
offi cial language of the region, constitutes a denial of historical circumstances
and would be a step back to the minority policy of the last decades.
After the First World War Transylvania became part of Romania. Soon
the state authorities begun a forced Romanization, and as part of that process
a substantial part of the properties of the traditional Hungarian Churches was
confiscated. The process was as unclear as possible, beginning with laws listing
properties that were taken in the property of the state and ending with forced
After 1989, Romania committed herself to restitute all the properties taken
away abusively, but that process in the case of the Hungarian Churches is slow
and ambiguous. Even more, if we take a closer look we can observe that while
most of those properties are still not restituted, the state makes substantial donations
to the Orthodox Church, which is a clear act of discrimination.
That is clearly bad news for the Hungarian Churches (and also to the whole
Hungarian community of the country), but the situation is turning even worse, as
there are already two cases of re-nationalization: two buildings that were returned
to their previous and legal owner were taken back in public property, despite all
the evidences proving that there were confi scated from the Churches.