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Minorities in East-Central Europe

Historical Analysis and a Policy Proposal

Europa Institut Budapest, 1993. 8–34. p.


Centurie-Old Principles Questioned?


“The fact that the issue of the rights of national minorities has not been settled for centuries could halt the process of the change of political regimes in the region of Central Europe. State-territory and national homeland have never been identical in the region. Attempts at solving this contradiction have turned out to be failures during the past one century and a half. Neither the supranational state (1867-1918, Austro-Hungarian Monarchy), nor the small states (1920-1989) offered a solution. Neither shifting borders (1918, 1938-41), nor the resettlement of nations (1945-49) can be applied according to moral standards. There is one single solution left: to declare the invulnerability of borders and guarantee the different types of autonomies for national minorities. This cannot be achieved without international guarantees. The new state system that is in the process of emerging shall have to accept a Code of Conduct, compliance with which may be set as a condition of acceptance by the various integrative institutions of Europe. The aim is not to introduce the constitutions of West European or of American countries, but to persuade the states of Central Europe to agree to a set of principles to be followed. It should be of great concern for Europe and for the entire world to make the region an integral part of European economic and political processes in the next decade. Otherwise it will be beset by tribal wars, by strife among neighbours, or even by civil wars.” We wrote this in November 1991 when we participated as a member in the work of the All-European Committee on the future of the former socialist countries, proposing strategies for European politicians concerning the Central European societies. Two functionaries of the European Community, several political scientists, university professors, a banker and a journalist, a few economists, diplomats representing international institutions, and an expert on military strategy participated and continue to work as members of this Committee. The team was set up by Bertelsmann Foundation, with the special support of Liese Mohn, under the leadership of Prof. W. Weidenfeld, head of the Institute of Political Science at the University of Mainz.


A New Era in European Civilization

It is evident that the European integration processes received a stunning jolt by the national and minority conflicts emerging in the wake of the transformation of the former socialist countries. The documents of the European Community and of the United Nations issued between 1989 and 1992 provide plenty of evidence that these problems need greater and closer attention. In particular, work must be focused on generally recognized and approved guarantees of minority rights. Once the issue was raised, autonomy was granted to Austrians in South Tyrol in a short time (a move that would have been strenuously opposed by all serious politicians barely two decades earlier) and, simultaneously, the mass media stopped referring to Basque and Irish terrorists.

“Those who noted the explosive force of national minorities in states,” we further said, were inclined to consider the phenomenon as part of the spirit of the times. To be sure, it has been customary to speak of an ethnic renaissance taking place in the last decade and a half and, more recently, of the revival of conservative ideals. However, in our view the significance of the changes go much deeper than that.

In fact, European civilization has entered a new age. There emerges the need for the rearrangement of the relationship between individuals and the community, between human community and the territorial – administrative boundaries of dwelling areas – in general between state and nation.


Political and Historical Explanations

“Without doubt,” we continued our argument, “the conflicts in Central Europe resurfaced as the result of the collapse of the Soviet bloc. The camp's discipline – the so-called »internationalist« camp discipline – prevented the free discussion of disagreements among nations. At the same time, the discipline formerly imposed from above and the ever-present Soviet pressure gave even the most outdated nationalism the dubious attraction of temptation and the flavour of a forbidden fruit. Affronts to national sensitivities and obfuscation on issues of national interests – legitimate or believed to be so – prevented the peoples of the area to resolve the psychological problems produced by centuries-old antagonisms and obsessive xenophobia. These issues were settled in Western Europe after 1945. Nationalism turned out to be quite efficient as a means of resistance against a great power.

Adding to the political explanation we also want to offer a historical perspective. A reassessment of the peace treaties of 1919-1920 concluded that a spectacular failure in imposing its avowed principles occurred. Or, conversely, could it be simply a coincidence that the continental conflicts of recent years are being fought on the former territories of former Turkey and of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, both carved up by the peace treaties following World War I? Insistence in the treaties on the observation of principles of national self-determination, then ignoring them in the case of the defeated nations led to abject failure in both the Near East and Central Europe.”


Need for a Vision of the Future

The question is whether it is wise to attempt to explain lessons of history when we consider the future of the region. In our opinion it certainly is not! The political forces and the politicians – and ordinary people as well – are captives of their history. In their struggle for advantage, as a kind of self-justification, they frequently re-evaluate themselves as persons and reassess the role of their nation during the last few decades. When they do so, it becomes obvious that their vision of the future is very sketchy indeed.

Some attention should be paid to the all-European – in fact, universally recognized – forces that are currently at work transforming society in the West. It is only through such an examination that compatibility between the West European processes and our newly formed political forces can be established. The shaping of a new vision of the future of Central Europe is the task on which intellectuals and politicians should concentrate their thoughts.


New State Structures and Their Aims

“What could be the aims of the recently created state structures in society?” We asked ourselves and were forced to admit that any vision of the future is bound to rest, at least partly, on subjective criteria. Our answer was and it can only be: they must provide opportunities, through the self-realization of the individual in his community, for self-fulfilment within his family and among his friends, and must also provide opportunities for political, regional environmental as well as social and ethnic identification. Looking at the current incongruities between the territorial dimensions of the state and the actual distribution of ethnic groups within it, we regard the observance of minority rights as only one of the rules that might solve the problem. By the same token, we also observe that ethnic and national identities are only some of the various factors that connect the individual to his community.

The argument stated above was accepted by the leaders of the Working Committee at its December 1991 session, including all the questions that it raised. They commissioned the present author to draw up a survey and a Code of Conduct that appeared necessary for further discussions.

In response, we created a small working group with the assistance and cooperation of the Europe Institute in Budapest and the Institute of History functioning under the aegis of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. On the basis of a work schedule prepared in advance, preliminary documentations were produced dealing with countries of the former socialist camp. István Soós dealt with Poland and Albania, László Szarka discussed the former Czechoslovakia, Zoltán Szász examined the case of Romania, László Bíró looked at the former Yugoslavia, and Emil Niederhauser considered Bulgaria. A young colleague, several well-known scholars, and Emil Niederhauser (a world-renown expert on the nationality question and a mentor whose assistance was highly appreciated by the less-experienced members of the team), constituted the working group. László Bíró and Zsolt Horváth compiled the statistical tables and Lajos Palovics created the maps. Our special thanks go to a young geographer, Károly Kocsis, a personal friend, who made his coloured chart on the distribution of ethnic groups in Central Europe in the 1980s available for us, and also checked the data provided in its sources.


Incongruities... Incongruities...

The questions of assimilation or dissimilation were prominent right at the start of the work. Is it possible to take an unequivocal stand in support of national reawakening, as some Western experts suggest? To do this in full knowledge of the fact that, only a few years before, the same colleagues were enthusiastic supporters of assimilation? Is it just possible that, by tomorrow, all of us shall have to begin looking for our ancestral ethnic roots as a consequence of our stand? After all, not a very long time ago one's class origins were also a matter for close scrutiny.

What should be the role of the state in protecting collective rights? Will not the enforcement of collective rights lead in the current situation to a revival of the so-called principle” of collective responsibility? After all, individuals who had certain rights as member of a collective were also held accountable for acts with which they had nothing to do. (Just remember the forced resettlement measures of the Middle Ages and similar processes that followed World War II; or the collective persecution of Jews when ordinary people were categorized by their alleged race.)

There is another question to be considered: are racial or ethnic origins or ancient historical privileges the proper bases for including anyone in a particular minority group or in any given community? Such notions are diametrically opposed to the European upbringing of my entire generation. We know quite well the odious arguments inflicted on human beings whenever and wherever the question of “Who settled here first?” was raised, usually by pseudo- scientists. (Many official Western documents have been offering such arguments until this very day. Not only that, but the first draft Hungarian law on minority rights – which otherwise, at least in our judgment, is an excellent document – also uses the Western model as a point of reference.)

Is it right for minorities to demand proportional representation in public offices and functions under the law? Is this not a back-door way of returning to the infamous practice of restricted admissions to schools and jobs on the basis of an artificial quota system, where not talent and ability but social and ethnic origins are the decisive considerations?

What about representation? Should minority citizens have extra rights when voting for parliamentary parties? Actually, what is the meaning of “positive discrimination?” Is it proper to abandon the fundamental principle of equal rights for all citizens? This is another question that is raised by our history. And yet we, too, go on record in support of “positive discrimination.” (In the United States, the term used for this concept is “affirmative action”.) We do not support the idea of granting special privileges, but, propose instead, insuring equal opportunity for all. We must ask, however, the question, what are the areas of life where “positive discriminations” should be applied?

In sum, is classical (liberal) European parliamentarism, a system based on the equality of citizens as voters both in regard to the suffrage and electability, able to accept the demands for the representation of collectives? In other words, do we have to rethink the issue whether the European parliamentary system is capable of representing the demands of specific collectives? In this respect we must consider not only ethnic minorities as collectives, but also cultural and institutional groups, trade unions, religious and ideological collectives and countless other associations. Would not a two-chamber parliamentary system be more efficient in managing the great diversity of social, ideological, and ethnic problems in the region of Central Europe?


Is Settlement Only a Legal Problem?

We had to ask: is it at all possible to formulate general principles* in reference to Europe as a whole?” It is, after all, a generally recognized fact that laws simply offer a framework of possibilities, while their observance depends on social and historical traditions and patterns of conduct. We also had to raise another question, namely, is it really a matter of the application of laws only to settle minority issues?” We had to answer: it is rather the nature of the political system, a matter of politics and ethical norms and values that underlie the securing of minority rights.” We encountered this answer in all our previous historical studies and experiences in administration. We Central Europeans need theories only so far as they suggest a set of concrete proposals and the classification of the tasks that have to be performed.


Questions and Answers

Consequently, even before we could draft a Code of Conduct that may be applicable in our region, we had to raise certain questions and attempt to find answers for them. These questions are as follow:

I. How, and according to what patterns have the populations of the region developed in the course of past centuries? (In terms of ethnicity and religion, this is the most complex area of the entire European continent.)

II. In the recent history of the region what plans had been produced and when, in attempting to solve the minority issue, to resolve the problem posed by the fact that state frontiers and nationality and ethnic settlements had never corresponded to each other. (Until 1990, Great Power interests have always determined the fate of states in Central Europe, and the solutions that were suggested until our own time – whether liberal or collectivist, or whether they were conceived according to Soviet internationalist interpretations – were all fruitless.)

III. What changes are currently taking place in Western Europe in the relations between the individual and the community, citizens and political representation, the administration of an area and the system of settlements? (We shall introduce our ideas for the future, including a general outline: for about a century, various principles for the restructuring of regional administrations in Europe have been under development but have not reached the stage of actual introduction into real life, mostly because of the World Wars and disagreements over them. However, these principles are coming to the fore once again thanks to the explosive growth and expansion of communications and the flood of new information that is becoming available.)

IV. What are the general principles that we propose for adoption in state policies in the region in order to start negotiations about a Code of Conduct? (We envision the emergence of state organizations tolerant of ethnic diversity and expect that they would regard the collective rights of minorities as the manifestations of personal freedom.)

Each of the questions and the suggested answers – the latter of which are included in parentheses, – are treated here as separate chapters (Chapters I-V) before the Code of Conduct. In the present text the first question is presented in a draft-form.”

The above-mentioned international commission discussed the main points of the study and of the Code of Conduct in June 1992. They were accepted and their publication was recommended.


Mutual Agreement

Each of the small East European nations, the Hungarians just as much as the Slovak, Romanian, Croatian, Serbian and even the German neighbour-nation tend to forget about the pain of other nations living in the same state community with them. This concerns situations beyond their borders and even within their own state. Most often, both sides are ready to forget that only the understanding of the distress of others will heal our mutual afflictions. We usually tend to ignore the certain truth that only a mutually acceptable peace will preclude the infliction of additional pain. Open strife will only produce losers on both sides...


Ethnic Mixing in Central Europe
(Ninth through Twentieth Century)


Settlement, Migrations, Work Organization

Today's textbooks fail to pay attention to the ethnic diversity of the region between the former Holy Roman Empire and the realm of greater Russia.*

The State-Nation Approach Imposed in Retrospect

The educational systems of the states that exist in the region today teach their national history each as the prehistory of the present regional and administrative system (state), emphasizing aspects that correspond to the ideology of the nation-state of today. To consider the history of the national community as the binding material for civic consciousness is an intellectual heritage that has persisted for centuries. This is the method that has been sought and developed to research the ancestry of the majority nation of today, an ancestry that existed here centuries and even millennia ago. The peasants and farm owners who tilled the land, the craftsmen who made the tools, are each presented as citizens vested with a kind of modern nationality awareness they hardly possessed.

It is forgotten that, before the era of modern nation-states, society and its institutional system were developing in more diverse patterns than in the Modern Age. The communities living in these areas that spoke the same language, practiced the same customs and were therefore each organizing themselves on an ethnic basis, did not strive for absolute hegemony over the territory they occupied. It is forgotten, or the wider public has no knowledge of recent research results, proving that territorial and state divisions were based on a system of feudal services and allotments, and the language and nation of serfs and tenants was but of secondary importance. This is similar to modern historical thinking nurtured on atheistic views, which does not pay much attention to the fact that it used to be the tradition of faith, religion that functioned as a cohesive agent if a sense of community awareness was expected on the given state territory or feudal estate.

Ignored is the difference of conditions in the Middle Ages from state organization in the Modern Age where everyday coexistence, organized administration and complex production processes require the type of social contacts possible only with the use of an agreed semantic system, and where skilled administration and training demand that the linguistic culture and habit patterns of the coexisting persons and groups be integrated. That is why civil work organization brings along a golden age of national development and strives for having its admired regional and administrative organization – the modern state – being placed on national foundations. That is the way in which the intelligentsia – these architects and administrators of the modern state – so naturally acquire a decisive role in the development of national cultures.


Reassessment of History

Painting history in national colours in retrospect has been a long-standing illness of European historiography and history instruction. In the Western part of Europe this practice is frequently mentioned today when continental and global problems occupy the minds of historians and citizens alike. Citizens, and also the State, are getting more and more interested in the prehistory of continental and global phenomena. Even in the textbooks and even with reference to the Middle Ages, the earlier nationalistic subtitles are being replaced by references to efforts to improve the waters, forests, and the soil, to laws on their cleaning up, and to descriptions of environmental actions by rulers and civic groups. To be sure, nationalist errors are much less frequently committed when dealing with the histories of regions where the population was ethnically unified or less diverse.

Already in the Middle Ages and in early modern times, travellers and people of erudition – that is, those who were at all interested in such patterns on the continent – knew about the ethnic diversity of the population occupying the area stretching between the Holy Roman Empire and Russia. As the political map in the sense of Western European nation states developed but late in the region, this ethnic diversity did not become a victim of ethnic levelling in the area. The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, czarist Russia, or the Ottoman Empire may each be blamed of backwardness in comparison to the Western European (French) regimes, but the ethnic minorities were doubtlessly better able to preserve their separateness – and thus their own world of traditions – in any of these countries than the Occitans in France, or the Welsh in Britain.


The Middle Ages – Ninth through Fifteenth Centuries

Western Christianity and Orthodoxy. The region is split politically and ideologically according to whether it belonged to Western Christianity – and thereby to the Western European system – or to the sphere of interest of Byzantine Orthodoxy. This is the case with regard to community organization and to the character of the ethnic consciousness of the individual inhabitants of the area. Raising itself above nations and state administrations, the Church of Western Christianity – which represented a definite intellectual current in those countries – soon detached itself from the nation. The Orthodox Church on the other hand, which – for theological reasons – does not require a high level of intellectuality from its clergy (basic teachings only have to be passed on and not explained) continued to strengthen its links with the communities of its adherents on all levels – both with the State and the nation. The Orthodox priest is the top functionary of the local community – both in the religious and in the ethnic sense. To this day, the Church carries a much more marked role in being an agent of ethnic cohesion in the countries in which Orthodoxy is the majority religion than in areas where Western Christians constitute the majority.

Western Settlers and Peoples of the Steppes. In the 11th through 15th centuries migrations from the West and the inflow of Eastern steppe peoples became established in the region. For instance, following their missionaries, groups of German, French and Italian settlers arrived from the tenth century on. Especially from the German-Roman Empire did a large number of people come to the area of present-day Poland (once East Prussia), Bohemia and Slovakia (once the Hungarian Highlands or North Hungary) and to the entire area of present-day Hungary as well as to Transylvania (part of Romania today).

The new colonies of these peoples on sparsely settled territories enjoyed certain legal privileges – hospes rights and exemption from certain obligations and from the tough requirements of servitude. The immigration of manpower with higher culture and more advanced skills was in the interest of feudal lords. The new settlers did not come as if they had been believers in a Drang nach Osten or some kind of ethnic conquest; they arrived because they found favourable conditions here. It was only later historiography that represented the urban Saxons (and the rural Swabian farmers and agricultural labourers as exponents of German culture – or German colonizers if you will.

At the same time, from the East newer and newer waves of semi-nomadic peoples kept arriving in small groups – and in some cases in tribes. They came to the states of Western Christianity and also to Bulgaria, then a strong state in the Balkans.

Antagonistic customs and religious faith often assume the form of ethnic conflicts. The first appearance of opposition to aliens targeted communities of Western settlers who had received privileges and jealously guarded these special rights. Another manifestation was deriding the still semi-nomadic peoples from the steppes who lived as vagabonds and did not adjust to the life style of society. (They let their cattle graze at random and showed no respect for privately held land.)

Regional Ethnic Autonomies. Following the intentions of their ethnic (linguistic) community as well as of the landlords who had invited them, significant proportions of the new immigrants came to live in separate colonies in the Middle Ages. There were entire Italian and German villages. It is generally known that a good many towns of German settlers had a separate legal status or full-fledged autonomy from the Baltic to the Mediterranean. Some ethnic settlements of feudal times had extensive autonomy, but present-day historical literature does not devote sufficient attention to their study. Not only Germans, Westerners, but also Cumanians, Jazygians, and the Secclers of Transylvania noted for their special detachment, have maintained their autonomies – administrative, political and economic – until the rise of the bourgeoisie in the second half of the 19th century.

Starting with the 14th century, there were significant migrations in a north-western direction to escape the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. The earlier arrivals of Eastern merchants (Armenians, Greeks, etc.) were followed by large-scale collective migrations in the squeeze of Serbs and Romanians fighting the Turks. The refugees settled in the Carpathian Basin, but they remained markedly separate including religious differences.

Ethnic mixing – mingling individually as well as on a family basis – was particularly evident in the leading strata. The royal courts and the nobility included a majority of assimilates in the countries of the region; and the ruling dynasties – as else there in Europe – reflected a complete mixture. At the decline of the Hungarian House of Árpád (founders of the Hungarian state), for instance, only a very few rulers were of Magyar blood.

The coexistence of various ethnic groups was taken for granted in the Middle Ages. The administrative units (feudal estates, counties and state) did not become organized along ethnic lines. Many settlements and regions were autonomous.


Early Modern Age – Sixteenth through Eighteenth Centuries

Weakened States. The state organizations of the area, strong earlier, saw their power diminish.

The Kingdom of Poland spent the 17th and 18th centuries amidst the struggles of the Russian, Swedish and Prussian principalities and the Hapsburgs, and was dismembered in 1795. (Poland regained its sovereign statehood only in 1920.)

The independent state of the Czechs dissolved in 1620. (They regained their sovereignty only in 1920 in the framework of Czechoslovakia.)

The Hungarian state suffered under the impact of the Turkish attacks (1526) and soon broke into three parts.

As the Ottoman Empire expanded south-eastward, the Turks occupied the Balkans.

The Bulgarian and Serbian states had collapsed, and the Romanian principalities were reduced to vassalage. (That was the case until the first gradual and then final retreat of the Turks (1856-1912.)

The region became a buffer zone between the Turks and the Holy Roman Empire, with constant wars and the transformation of the pattern and culture of settlements.

Buffer Zone and Ethnic Mixing. Ethnic mixing grew prevalent in the buffer zone. To the North (Kingdom of Poland), there was a growing influx of Russians and Germans, and the territory of Bohemia was subject to increasing Germanization.

The Hapsburg dynasty extended its rule to Hungary, and in consequence most towns and industrial centres of North Hungary (today Slovakia) became almost fully Germanized settlements.

In the central area of the Hungarian Kingdom, a very large proportion of the earlier dominant ethnic group of Magyars perished. Apart from the inflow of South Slav peoples, there was virtually daily general migration as customary under Turkish occupation.

In Transylvania various ethnic groups developed autonomies of a unique character in Europe. For instance, the Romanians in the mountain regions of the area engaged principally in pastoral and military pursuits.

The earlier ethnic islands remained in existence on the Balkans. The Turks also set up colonies. In certain areas the Slavic groups converted to the Moslem faith and began to consider the Turkic customs as special ethnic behaviour patterns (e.g. Bosnians). The ethnic effects of religious conversion were also evident elsewhere. For instance, the Pomeranians of Poland developed their own ethnicity under Ukrainian influence through the Uniate Church.

Settlements and Internal Migration after the Turks. After the Turks were forced to withdraw (following 1699), there was large-scale migration in the territory of the Hungarian Kingdom. As a result of a purposeful settlement policy, Swabian, Bavarian and Frankish elements were settled in the area of all of present-day Hungary and former Yugoslavia, which were by then under Habsburg domination (area along the Danube, Southwest Hungary, and the vicinity of Bácska and Tokay). The newcomers were welcome on account of their work culture being higher than that of the locals, and they were given privileges similarly to the medieval practice.

From the area of North Hungary, Slovaks move toward the southern part of the Great Plains left uninhabited by the Turks.

The South Slav and Romanian settlements along the boundary toward the retreating Ottoman Empire were developed by the King as a Frontier Zone enjoying a certain degree of autonomy. The privileges granted to that Zone included ethnic and religious autonomy, and the services expected of the inhabitants – largely military – were fundamentally different from the burdens of other subjects of the state.

It should not be forgotten that the Romanians of Transylvania, or the Serbs who moved from the south toward the heartlands of the country, came into this area, then largely deserted and left almost unfertile by its population, as excellent animal keepers and brave soldiers. The Swabians pulling in from the west were industrious tillers of the land, whereas the Greeks, Armenians and Jews had been professional merchants for centuries. The ethnic problems that appeared at the time consisted principally of conflicts between the Hungarian county system and the Frontier Zones – with their privileged population of mainly Serbs and Romanians wanting to maintain their autonomy in the face of the counties – and did not represent antagonism to living in the Hungarian Kingdom.


Modern Age – 1848-1920

Failure of Aspirations toward Nation States. The emergence of national states in Europe stirred the leading national strata of the region, and there were Polish, Hungarian, Slovakian, Serbian, and Romanian movements in the Russian and Hapsburg empires. The Polish movement failed at the time, but the Hungarians achieved success when in 1867, for the first time since 1526, the territorial integrity of medieval Hungary was re-established. (The policy towards minorities will be discussed in the next chapter.)

In the northern areas, the industrial revolution and the demand for provisions by the towns strengthened the productive large estates and through them the Prussian leading groups of the population that was settled there. There were strong denationalizing campaigns both in the Russian and Prussian areas, with the Roman Catholic Church leading the resistance against the Protestant Prussians and the Orthodox Russians. Again the interlacing of religion and ethnicity.

By this time, the hereditary provinces of the Monarchy received marked territorial autonomy. This enabled the local ethnic groups to become more aware of their nationality. Under the impact of the industrial revolution, the development of mining and industry in the southern fringe areas, and the upswing of agricultural production in the south – especially in the territory of former Yugoslavia – reared a new middle class of the national minorities in Hungary.

Balkan States and Their Population. The Turks were gradually pushed back in the southeast partly on account of the weakening of the Ottoman Empire and partly through the growing national awareness of the Slavic peoples and the Romanians (Romanian, Bulgarian and Serbian statehood, and later Montenegro and Albania). When directly after the liberation of the area from the Turks, recurring nation-state wars broke out on account of territorial claims (the Balkan Wars), Europe failed to take note that these were the first series of conflicts caused by the spread of the nation-state formula in a region of diverse ethnic groups.

Industrial Revolution, Ethnic Mixing. Another wave of ethnic mixing swept across the region. Civil work organization demanded industrial labour and office workers, financial and administrative experts. Fast bourgeois development in the eastern regions of Europe and in the Kingdom of Hungary attracted German, Austrian, Hungarian and Czech tradespeople and artisans to these areas. They spread from the North Sea to the Mediterranean. As the development of the towns and of their administration drew large sections of the population from the provinces, there was considerable internal migration also (e.g., the large number of Slovak and German labourers to the new construction sites). Money markets in big and small city centres helped the ascension of a Jewish and a German middle class. With the language of the administration defining the character of the state, the development of modern state administration ensured preferential treatment for the German and Hungarian ethnic groups, and there was a strong assimilation trend.

In a bourgeois state ethnic mixing is of a new type: of a personal character. The bourgeois state dissolved ethnic privileges in the various types of settlements. The separation of the German autonomies in towns as well as the Yazygian, Cumanian and Transylvanian Seccler autonomies ended. The civil state of the bourgeoisie is not cognizant of collective rights, but it does not know the meaning of collective denationalization either.

Cosmopolitan Towns and National Villages. The towns mould assimilation on the level of individuals. The new circumstances for making a living, the new work order and the new patterns of settlements crumbled ethnic customs whose traditions reached back through the centuries. There started in the region a marked separation of the cosmopolitan towns and of the national villages. Shut off from industrial development, the villages safeguarded and kept their traditions, whereas the industrialized towns received and absorbed alien cultures.

Peasant societies developed in the area. Orthodoxy had a role in the national struggles on the Balkans. Societies which had been accustomed to fighting on military battlefields for about five-hundred years, did not refrain from cruelty in ethnic conflicts. The tradition for autonomy weakened in the region. In the territories of Orthodoxy and in the Byzantine type of state, the individual and the state came to be locked in a peculiar relationship, with the administration exerting unrestricted power over civil society.

Small States – Minority Protection. World War I turns into a war of nations from a war of states. It is in the natural interest of the parties engaged in the war to mobilize all internal adversaries of their enemies. (See the next chapter on nationality policies.) The treaties concluded after World War I bring into existence small states and the need for minority protection in the region.


Contemporary Age – 1920-1990

On the Regional Level Migration Halts. The final dismemberment of the region into so-called national states eliminated the possibility of free migration and free employment in the region. Maps of the region record the state boundaries of today (of yesterday). The new states are not without internal conflicts. In Poland the Ukrainian and Belorussian minorities, in Czechoslovakia the Czechs and Slovaks, in Yugoslavia Slovenian, Croatian, Serbian, Albanian and other ethnic groups, and in Bulgaria Turkish and Macedonian ethnicities rarely forget about their antagonisms. (See the descriptions of the individual countries in the Data Bank.) There are also ethnic metamorphoses; interesting is the case of the Macedonians; centuries of territorial struggle between the Bulgarian and Serbian states go together with the development of a new ethnicity by the turn of the century. The settlement policies of the new national states stumble over the Gypsy problem. (There has been no hint to this day of a viable policy on this question manifest in differences in social patterns, ethics and tradition; in fact physiological discrimination makes its development and pursuit difficult.)

The Use and Disadvantages of Nation. From the point of view of the citizen, the state organizations of the region are judged according to whether they have brought the citizen closer materially and intellectually to the level of advanced cultures or not. In other words, they are judged on how advantageous any new order is for the office worker, peasant and labourer. The new state territories show tremendous development in the cultures of the new majority nations and marked advantages for those belonging to the majorities. New values of national culture emerge. The new (national) middle classes profit the most from the new development (new national and state offices, perks).

In the pursuit of state policy against the new minorities the earlier spontaneous ethnic conflicts rise to the level of conflicts in state representation and national antagonism. Research leaves a number of question marks.

Internal Migration. Migration continues within the states. The new nation-state centres exercise a draining effect. The delayed arrival of the industrial revolution to the south-eastern region sets off considerable ethnic mixing on a personal level. (Experts estimate that in former Yugoslavia the last fifty years resulted in 7 million citizens living in mixed families.) Now it is above all the former architects of the state, the members of middle class, who are leaving former state territories.

Fascism and Ethnicity. The ethnic programme of fascism in the region. Positive discrimination achieved for the German diaspora with state assistance. Fascist theory turns ethnic status into a value category. Ethnic and race theory. The plan for a new Europe.

The effects of the state boundaries that were to be adjusted to ethnic boundaries; the effects of territorial revisions on ethnic mobility. (The effects of war and power changes will be mentioned later on.)

Small States and the Soviet Zone. The political system of the Soviet zone. Describing the Soviet idea on abolishing racial categories. Ethnic status must not be a disadvantage, but neither shall it carry any kind of value. The programme of social equalization and the destruction of national and religious traditions. The last big state projects of the Era of Iron and Steel; the development of industrial centres and the reorganization of agriculture.

Ownership Change and Opposition to the Church. Dissolution of village society. The change in ownership, the liquidation of private property at the same time destroyedthe possibility of the individual remaining in his way of thinking at least inwardly independent of the state. The earlier economic foundation of minority cultures is getting liquidated. The ousting of the churches and their forced dissolution breaks another pillar of ethnic heritage. Poland is an exception. The role of the Orthodox Church along with the majority nation and the dictatorship.

Surviving Ethnic Groups. The last cohesive minority settlements break up. Minorities living in solid integration over larger areas – that is, fully structured minority societies – constitute an exception. Such are the Hungarians in Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine and in Yugoslavia, and certain areas inhabited by Germans who were not dislocated. The forced spread of state culture is a means of providing an advantage for the culture of the majority nation. Small autonomies – either of small communities or personal autonomy – have no place in this political system.

Attempts To Begin Anew and Their Failure. In 1989 there was an attempt at rapprochement by anti-Stalinist forces in the area in regard to the minority question producing initial results. Then the first free elections brought ethnic struggles into the multiparty system and many votes for the revivification of some of the pre-1945 reflexes.


Conclusions in Regard to the Compilation of the Code of Conduct

The region is inhabited by a population of the most strongly mixed ethnicity in Europe. Regional and personal autonomy is still a tradition and part of the mentality of the people here who have been influenced by Western-type Christianity.

Thousands of years of ethnic mixing are evident in all the peoples of the region. The minority policies of the political systems to develop here have to count on extremely mixed societies on the personal and family levels. Support should be given to radical and full personal autonomy, and, in addition, the preservation of the surviving regional autonomies should be encouraged.


Possibilities for Adjustment in Central Europe 1867-1992
(State and Nation)


1989-1992 – these three years marked a great opportunity in Central Europe to sort things out again. Those in 1989-1990 who saw this opportunity opened by the revolutionary processes starting in the region were certainly not mistaken. For the first time in the modern history of the region the possibility arrived for the people living in the area to readjust their relations with each other, earlier perpetually spoiled, but now free at last of dependency on the Great Powers.


German-Austrian-Hungarian Interests (1867-1918)

During the history of the past 150 years, territorial situation and the location of a nation – that is, the state borders – were always determined principally by the Great Powers. First, the settlement of the German question (1866-1871), and then the events affecting the Turks (1878-1913) in the southeast and the Russian Empire in the east cut the peoples apart according to the pattern of state borders. At other times, the relationship of the Great Powers of Western Europe to each other (1918), or the conflicts of the world powers (Soviet-American relations after 1948) were in the spotlight.

The boundaries of states from the North Sea to the Balkans were determined between 1866 and 1878 by the settlement of the German question. After the Hapsburgs had been pushed out from the Reich (Königgrätz, 1866), they were left the possibility of turning the existing personal union between the hereditary provinces of Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary into a constitutional commonwealth. (The Hapsburgs had ruled over Austrian territories for six hundred years, and more than three-hundred years in Hungary.) In 1867 the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, and then in 1871, with Prussian leadership, the second German Reich came into being. The Austrian-Hungarian state determined the fate of the many small peoples – Slovaks, Serbs, Romanians, and Croatians – living in the area, strengthening their national awareness exactly during the decades in question. Right from the beginning, these peoples saw the segregated Hungarian state as an enemy.

After each of them had been under Turkish rule for several hundred years, the gradual withdrawal of the Turks made possible the formation or re-constitution of Bulgaria (1878), Serbia (1816-1878), and Romania (1859-1861), and the occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina by the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. In the period of the emergence of the modern European states when the framework of regional administration developed and became directly tainted by modern bureaucracy, the principles of ethnicity were hardly attended to. The large Polish population living in the area stretching from the North Sea to the Carpathians did not regain the kingdom they lost in 1795. Apart from extensive autonomy for the Croatians alone among the diversity of peoples living within the Hungarian Kingdom, no other ethnic group received any kind of intra-state regional or administrative autonomy in the Carpathian Basin. The Croatians, who had had segregated estates and territories within Hungary (since 1102) were declared an autonomous part of the Hungarian Kingdom in 1868. True, at that time the small peoples in Hungary did not yet have movements championing autonomous regional administration, and the large numbers of Germans living in the country considered themselves at home in the Monarchy.

However, as the Romanian and Serbian kingdoms were set up close by, the other peoples living in the Monarchy also began to entertain the hope to share the same regional unit with the people who spoke their language. Since the contemporaneous Western European states had also big nationality minorities, the eastern region regarded the minority problem as settled if civil liberties were introduced within the traditional framework of the state. The southeastern states (Romania, Bulgaria, and Serbia) showed no political tolerance at all; they failed to form a minority policy to deal with the other nationalities within their territories.


Liberalism and Its Shortcomings

The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was the only country to think of legally regulating the rights of national minorities on the state level. Austria, with its diversity of nations, recognized the equality of ethnic tribes in its constitution of December 1867. In the Hungarian law framed in 1868, the mentality of the liberal policies of the times was asserted, for it provided that all individuals were free to use their own language within the state and the minorities as collectives had the right to form cultural organizations. At the same time, liberal European thinking rejected the special political rights of collectives as something left over from feudalism. The charting of the regional and administrative boundaries of the region reflected Great Power interests, and the internal system of the state followed the French model of state administration.

At the turn of the century when collective aspirations strengthened in the large-scale societies of Europe, the lower strata of society began to make their voice heard in the political life of the state, partly with social welfare demands and partly with national claims. Among the peoples of Central Europe, the desire for the organization of national communities broke out with elemental force. By this time, liberal ideas were no longer enough; in fact, the most liberal election law of the region (Austria, 1907) brought about a degree of political organization on the part of the national minorities that almost paralyzed the political life of the state.

The leadership of the Monarchy viewed uncomprehendingly the demands of the minorities who were by now asking for regional autonomies. Several conceptions emerged to deal with the situation, most of them never becoming, however, more than plans. Best known among them was the comprehensive plan postulating rights on the basis of personal autonomy and federation of the Austrian social democracy, and the proposal of the Hungarian bourgeois Left, a group limited in size, which envisaged cantons in the Monarchy according to the Swiss pattern. The Left – because of its one-sided social welfare demands – did not gain sufficient political power to give clout to its ideas.

By 1918, it was too late to take any constructive action at all. While the leaders of the Monarchy faced the national aspirations in a numb daze, all the leaders of the southeastern states understood was that their respective territories might be expanded<~>to accommodate nationality members living beyond their borders. Romania and Serbia started to demand areas for themselves from the southern and eastern parts of the Monarchy as soon as the lines of force the Great Powers represented in the war made this possible.

Of course, at the end it was not the regional population patterns but the superior force of the Great Powers that determined the restructuring of the region in 1918.


French and Anglo-American Interests (1919-1938)

Because of the dissolution of the Monarchy and the weakening of Russia in 1918-1920, the French wielded the strongest great power interests in the region.

With Germany being the principal loser, French and Anglo-American political strategy championed the power ambition of preventing the creation of an alliance that might be friendly to the Germans. This favoured those among the internal forces legitimately dissatisfied with the regional and administrative policies of the Monarchy who worked for its dismemberment rather than for any federative transformation. By the same token, preferences were given to Serbia against a Bulgaria that had fought on the side of the Central Powers. As a result, Czechoslovakia was created out of Bohemia, the largely Slovak-inhabited Northern Highlands of Hungary, and from the Carpatho-Ukraine; and the Serbian-Croatian-Slovene state (known as Yugoslavia after 1929) was put together from Serbia, Croatia, the Slovene areas, from the southern part of Hungary, from Bosnia-Herzegovina and other Balkan areas. Romania almost doubled in size by a similar process, acquiring all of Transylvania and part of the Banat as well as the mixed population of these areas, and occupied toward the east Dobrudzha and Moldavia.

After 123 years of subjugation, the Poles won their independence, receiving areas including non-Poles who were inhabitants of the feudal Polish Kingdom of the 18th century from Germany and the Monarchy, both losers in World War I, and from weakened Russia.


Small Nation States

Called nation states by the victorious powers of World War I, the new states were in fact hardly more homogeneous ethnically than the dismembered regional administrative units of earlier times. Although it was known that the lack of correspondence between state territories and the ethnicity of their population had caused tensions that strained the region for centuries, Great Power interests to ignore this factor still ruled supreme. In truth, small multinational countries as were even the Monarchy and Russia, were formed whose own political power considered them nation-states. To neutralize ethnic tension, the Great Powers forced on the new states (Czechoslovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Poland) agreements regulating the rights of national minorities, while the centralized state organizations were maintained.

Never before studied in detail, it should be the subject of a separate research project to examine what the results were of copying the model presented by the French state when the former near eastern areas of the Ottoman Empire were restructured, and to what extent the principles guiding territorial reorganization in 1918 operated as a source of the present conflicts both in Central Europe and in the Near East.

Similarly, no comprehensive comparative study has as yet come out on the minority agreements of 1919-1920. The texts of the agreements demonstrate much more modern principles than the Western Great powers dictating them – above all France – had followed at home with respect to their own minorities.

It is a different question how, in societies not at all schooled in civic tolerance, the internationally prompted provisions would have worked. The persecution of the Ukrainians and ethnic civil war in Poland (1930-1934), letting loose pogroms against the Jewish nationality, the evasions and circumventions of the law in Romania and in Yugoslavia, the anti-Hungarian measures in these countries, recurring atrocities, confiscation of the lands of the former ruling ethnic group, and so on, are known even though today's historiographies conceived in the state-nation spirit keep silent about them.

Hungary perhaps exactly because it had become an almost pure nation-state regarded nationality policy as an unnecessary bad thing. In Czechoslovakia the Czech political line managed to restrict expression of anti-minority feelings to some extent and allowed the enforcement of international agreements.


The German Sphere of Interest (1938-1945)

Between 1938 and 1941, it seemed that the ethnic-oriented readjustment of state boundaries was to begin. National-socialist Germany appeared in Europe under the guise of fulfilling collective as well as of social and national principles. It disrupted the peace system of 1920, and annexed to the Reich Austria, where the language and the culture were German. First, having detached the German Sudetenland, it reduced Bohemia to a Czech autonomous area that was its protectorate. To Slovakia it gave independent statehood, but relinquished to Hungary the areas where the Magyar population constituted the majority and a small area with Polish majority to Poland. The Western Great Powers accepted the new settlement – declared to be an ethnic one – the same way as they did in 1918 the introduction of the centralist state principle. However, Germany's great-power ambitions were soon evident under the proclaimed ethnic principle as became clear in 1918 that the bare interests of the Western Great Powers were at work behind the nation-states. In the case of Yugoslavia, independence was given to Croatia whereas Hungary received a significant proportion of the Hungarian-inhabited areas – more precisely, those where the Serbs were a minority in comparison to the Hungarians and Germans. Romania was forced to yield areas from multinational Transylvania where Hungarians constituted the majority (northern Transylvania). (In the meantime, the Soviet Union took back Moldavia which had been grabbed from Russia by the Romanians in 1918 but which now again had a Romanian majority.) And Poland was split between the Soviet Union and Germany - with no concern at all for the ethnic principle. While Germany shattered the system produced by the Versailles peace treaties, the Soviet Union started to build its power bases in Central Europe.


Triumph of the Ethnic Principle: Boundary Adjustments

The Great Powers made attempts to solve with territorial alterations the contradictions between territory and nationality (ethnicity) as apparent in the minority problems, which they, too, found troubling. The social effects of the border revisions between 1938 and 1941 are but little known; here they have been studied only as part of a line of imperialist policy. There are virtually no data on how a simple peasant or clerk of broken Poland was deprived of home and country, or how an ordinary German peasant settled after 1940 in the western half of Poland started his new life on unfamiliar ground to become himself a displaced person in just a few years. The same way, there are no surveys on the victims of the introduction in 1918 of Romanian rule in previously Hungarian territories, or of the effects of the temporary restoration of the Hungarian domination in some areas of the south and in Transylvania though these events uprooted and forced to flee many ordinary Hungarian, Romanian and Serbian peasants, workers and employees. Not to speak of the Jews who had to tremble for mere survival.


Buffer Zone

In the restructuring of the region in 1945 through 1947, again great power considerations had the only say. Forgetting when they punished the losers that the re-patterning of the area began in 1938 with the full agreement of Britain and France, the victors acted as a bureaucratic schoolmaster. Even England started to speak up only when Poland was attacked. This is not to speak of the Soviet Union, which played a rather ignominious role in the region until 1941. Now all of them celebrating victory, they returned to the territorial divisions of 1920, a solution which they had already admitted was wrong.

The area from the Baltic to the Black Sea was turned into a buffer zone between the Soviet Union and the Western Powers. The bourgeois left was looking for federative solutions in Romania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Bulgaria. Neither Peter Groza of Romania, nor Yugoslavia's Tito or the Bulgarian Dimitrov, both of them communists, were averse to the approach. However, lacking support from the Great Powers, and then, after 1947, because of definite opposition on the part of the Soviet Union, these initiatives never came to anything.


Collective Responsibility – Deportations

Just as did their professors, the intellectuals, the Great Powers regarded the minority problem simply as a source of conflicts that may even lead to war. European political thinking in the period failed to notice that the expansionism of Germany and of national socialism was more and different than simply the breaking loose of hell and deviation from the French and English models of state organization that were widely regarded as ideal. They failed to note that, with the defeat of fascism, the ethnic principle lost its importance, and, even earlier, the French centralized nation-state had proven its incapacity to function. That was true even if this disfunctioning was shouted about and turned to good advantage by the national socialists.

However, the Great Powers did not move an inch from the ideology of the nation-state. After 1938 Germany and its allies expected to ease the administrative and ethnic contradictions of the region by rectifying the boundaries, the Allies were now experimenting with the relocation of minority populations and wanted to create state territories of pure ethnicity. (In the era of fascist extermination camps when people were brutally slaughtered, it apparently did not seem inhuman to force millions of peoples to leave their homes and chattels, the settlements where they had lived for centuries, with just a few bundles. Today we see this differently. We recognize the shortcomings of the nationality policy of liberalism, its failure to provide collective rights; we see the impossibility of border modifications which had reduced additional millions of people to minority existence in the countries with mixed ethnic groups. But none of this destroyed people who proved capable of recreating their circumstances or of adjusting to new circumstances. It was amazing how peasants and workers adjusted to hardships and bore up with the rule of politicians and the military who kept redrawing borders. Power and the prevailing language changed, but the inhabitants who formed the landscape, who tilled the land and produced goods, stayed on. On the other hand, deportation rendered impossible life itself and broke up families. Without a doubt, after the extermination camps and the notorious political work camps this was the most inhuman act against minorities. The deportations were started by the fascists, but they were allowed to happen by the Western Allies and the Soviets. Moreover all of this was done by the political intelligentsia of Europe in the spirit of the French revolution's nation-state, a cause they championed as holy.)

The answer of liberal state organizations to the requests for collective rights and the observation of the ethnic princples was to declare and enforce collective responsibility. Apart from deportations, the results included deprivation of people of their civic rights on the basis of ethnicity. (In Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Romania from Germans; in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia from citizens who were classified as Hungarians.)

Restoration of territorial and administrative statuses as they existed in 1920 was the joint decision of the Great Powers and it was generally accepted even by the local bourgeoisie. But now it occurred without the safety valve of provisions for the protection of minority rights. The alternative of creating pure nation-states by means of deportation and likewise the feeble plans for federative solutions were thwarted by cold war and the introduction of the Soviet system.


Sphere of Interest Policy Again (1949-1990)

In 1949, the Stalinist Soviet Union formed its own military, economic and political zone. It largely closed the region for 40 years to western economic and political influence and thereby shut off the area from the workings of the economic forces that were operating in the West. Its political system reinforced state and regional boundaries. Both the economy and culture relied on only the resources of the state and the nation, with the administrative controlling role of the capital cities being further strengthened within the state, partly for security and military reasons. As against the decentralization of the regional economy and culture that reached Western Europe in the period between 1950 and 1970, regional centralization was enforced in this part of the world. Village and town, which are today the strongest units in the Western pattern of settlements, became here subordinated to artificial administrative regions. Central state bureaucracy, which is interested in preserving a centralized nation-state and in preventing the development of regional self-administration, was strengthened.


Soviet Internationalism

Characteristically, even economic integration was conceived as the integration of state-controlled directive bodies. Travel was made difficult even within the zone – allegedly because of security reasons. All this, while the Western middle classes enjoyed all the benefit of international contacts in their choice of employment and holiday accommodations. Within the zone, however, communication between allied countries was more difficult than before 1938 when the states now making up the zone were openly hostile to each other. (In the meantime, the eventual transparency of the borders was an integral part of Marxist teachings on the image of the future.)

Parallel with this, the nationalisms still present in the region were repressed forcefully and by ideological means, proletarian internationalism and the equality of all humans being loudly proclaimed. In fact, insistence on Soviet political dominance called to life a vigorous anti-Soviet nationalism, or, more precisely, opposition to everything the Soviets wanted. (In this way internationalism gave rise to antipathy, and the really obsolete nationality ideas of hatred became forbidden fruit in which people wanted to indulge.) Minority problems were treated as internal affairs. The different states saw different solutions for the management of minority conflicts. (Between 1952 and 1968 in Romania there was an area where Hungarians benefited from regional autonomy, whereas elsewhere even Hungarian universities established earlier were closed. In Poland the life of the German minority was imperilled while the Lithuanians and Belorussians enjoyed cultural autonomy.)

As pressure from Moscow relaxed, relative autonomy increased within the region from 1961 on, the local nationalisms strengthened, usually assuming the form of state nationalism. The triumph of the principle of nation-states was regarded as a dictate of the times, and the disappearance of minorities was considered merely a matter of time. Only believing in the social identity of the individual, faithful communists accepted and proclaimed this; and the nationalists went along with the idea because it gave a pretext for eliminating instruction in the mother tongue of the minorities (e.g., in Hungary, Bulgaria and Poland), or offered a chance for blaming the minorities as scapegoats for the internal problems of the state and thus suggested a way for limiting their rights (Romania, Czechoslovakia).

Following the stance of liberalism in regard to the importance of the individual citizen and after the later failure of the collective principles of ethnicity, the Soviet interpretation of proletarian internationalism likewise failed to cope with the incompatibility between territorial organizations and ethnic groups. In fact, some representatives of the minorities think back with a sense of nostalgia of the minority policy that was pursued between the two wars in Czechoslovakia or Romania.

Yugoslavia was the only state in the region that tried out new experiments in its state organization. In the structures that developed in the 1960's, it divided the state and population into republics (constituent nations) which were also entrusted with working out ways for minority autonomy. Today when there is heavy fighting in Yugoslavia, we are apt to speak about the ruthlessness of the previous system. Still, no objective observer will deny that Yugoslavia – with its great diversity of minorities, living in some cases scattered widely over the territory of the state and in other cases coexisting in cohesive blocks – was the state where the largest number of alternatives were worked out to cope with the problem. The great question is whether it was because of the dictatorial (communist) methods of the political system that the experiment failed or whether it was actually the centralization that encouraged the strengthening of the dissenting forces.


Disintegration of the Soviet Regime

In 1989-91 a lot of things were very different from 1920, 1938, or 1947.

In 1918-1920 and then again in 1938-41, the big political changes were generated by the tension between the nation and the state, in other words partly by the minority issue. The present restructuring was caused by the internal disintegration of a political regime, of the Soviet system, the sharpening of the minority issue being only one consequence of the changes.


Conclusions for the Code of Conduct

In the 19th and 20th centuries politics failed to hit on the proper framework for coexistence in administration and regional or state government, one that would be acceptable for the ethnic groups and nationalities who have lived in the region in a mixture for the past thousand years. The state boundaries were again and again readjusted through external force, pushing in this way tens of millions of people into the disadvantageous state of minorities, and then, with the intention of ensuring homogeneity within the boundaries of the states, forcing millions again to leave their ancestors' dwelling places. Though educated at the best universities of Europe and having had access to mountains of books as teaching aid, the intelligentsia of the 19th and 20th centuries did not come up with much that was of use for ordinary everyday people living in the area.

Therefore, it is necessary to rethink again the relations between individual and settlement, between nation and state (regional government).


New Forces of Community Development and Regional Planning in Europe


Whose Europe is it that we wish to build? Is it a Europe for citizens, the middle classes, the Europe of nations and of states? That was one of the first questions we raised in 1989 when witnessing the acceleration of the decline of the Soviet regime in the Central European region.

What will that integrated Europe be like? And why do the Western European societies raise questions in regard to the traditional (substantially 19th century) institutions of regional administration?


A Global Challenge and the Interests of Production

It is a commonplace thing to refer to a global challenge today, but here in this part of Europe, in Central and Eastern Europe, it doesn't hurt to call to mind routine things that are commonplace in the West. It is a hackneyed fact of reality that the solution of the ecological problems that are a threat to the Globe is impossible in societies whose view of mankind is defined by the particular interests of areas buttressed by state boundaries and the wish to act in accordance with the one-sided interests of one's own nation. The same way it is inconceivable to realize the international control of modern weapons of world destruction if the present divisions are maintained. It is also a hackneyed assertion to say – though we may not acknowledge it – that the state divisions formed in the 17th through 19th centuries and still in existence are at present the greatest obstacles to successfully dodging the global dangers threatening us. (All this is particularly important today when the Soviet system has collapsed putting an end to the military and political cleft in the world which we used to consider the only obstacle in the way of overcoming global perils.)

The economic sphere has since the turn of the century expressed everyday dissatisfaction with the regional divisions of European states. The rise of Europe was in the past a result of there being a lot of well-established small territorial entities and a subtly differentiated social framework of life in each. Now, in this period of the industrial revolution, the existence of all these little regional units (states), each protected by tariffs and difficult to get to relate to the others, present barriers to further development. The idea for a united states of Europe was inspired at the beginning of the century partly by the shift in industrial production to methods of serial manufacture in recognition of the advantages of large units for production, the division of labour and for the free mobility of manpower. (At that time averting wars was the principal aim.) The breakthrough affected by the United States of America and later by the Far East in automated production and eventually in computer-controlled serial production has since then made it clear to everyone that regions cut apart by state boundaries hinder the development of economic production.



With its ambition to see the formation of relatively small units independent of state boundaries and freely crossing them, regionalism presents a threat to the existing territorial organization of states from an entirely different direction. Technical advancement and the internationalization of commercial and production relations call into being economic and regional interdependencies of an entirely different nature than those established by centuries-old state boundaries. Though separated by boundaries, the neighbouring regional units of two or three states are more dependent on each other than the eastern and western ends of the same state. (Any Central European state, Hungary included, may be cited as an example. South Hungary and the former Yugoslavia, and the same way North Hungary and the new Slovakia, or East Hungary and the western areas of the Ukraine, and the southern areas of Poland could constitute areas more integrated economically than the present state of Hungary, Ukraine, or Croatia.) As a unit of management and production, the territory of a state seems not just too narrow, but also entirely obsolete and artificial today at the end of the 20th century.


Individualization in Public Thinking

It seems less of a routine statement than the above stereotypes to call attention to the fact that in public thinking certain ideas have appeared that are radically in confrontation with the traditional principles applied in the territorial organization of European states. A new type of individualized awareness is now present in the thinking above all of the post-war generation who are now gaining positions in the various institutions.

In the past five decades there has been meteoric advancement in the general development of the public culture of European societies. This became evident first in education and then in the development of the mass media. All this increased the demand for the greater cultural and intellectual independence of the individual. After the large-scale expansion of the press, the radio and then television helped to promote the individualization of the masses. Although the new media actually transmit schemes, slogans and stereotypes and thereby simplify the image of the world, they make the individual believe that they are unprecedented means for the fullest possible serving of self-realization. In fact, there is some truth in this. Perhaps the standards of public thinking are sinking lower than, seeing the shallow messages of the media, people assert, but there is no question that society reads these messages. The individual picks and chooses and tries to find his or her place in the community with increasing deliberation, seeking more and more self-reliantly for identification with persons of similar thinking.

Often-mentioned ethnic renaissance is also an ambivalent process. It does not simply mean seeking for the ideal of collectivity – for ethnic belonging – but it also means that the individual is becoming distanced from the civil classification attempts of an overbearing state and gives priority to other links of identification with the community – thus ethnic, religious and ideological ties – over the need for his or her identity image as a citizen. Individual choice rather than compulsion, and seeking for identity ties more suited to one's personal views indicate that a new kind of individualism is developing.

In the USA, ethnic renaissance became in the 1980s tantamount to relating to one's roots, to looking for new forces of integration – community forces that are independent of the state. What seems the most natural thing to do in Europe is to relate to those who speak the same language, to the given ethnic group, or to various micro communities – regional communities or communities of people who think similarly to the given person.


Looser State Ties

The consciousness of citizenship as the No. 1 framework for thinking in terms of the community identification of the individual, is beginning to weaken, that is other identities tying the individual to the community – identity with family and friends, the region and its landscape, with the ethnic group, with a certain ideology, and with social and work organization – are growing stronger. (This is enhanced by the freedom of travel and the mass media bringing alien cultures into close proximity, etc.) The individual is feeling a stronger and stronger desire to see through all the processes taking place in his environment, to understand them all. This involves at the same time a rejection of non-transparent structures and organizations. (We hardly need to explain in detail that the various movements in England, Spain, or Italy demanding that the state should convey some of its competencies to regional organizations are in essence manifestation forms of this type of general development. Envisaged is the passing on of competencies in the fields of public health and health care, in siting industries and in tourism.)

We could go ahead listing the special technical and infrastructural aspects of the pattern of development in the 20th century that render the states but relative frameworks for the movements, industrial activities and thinking of their citizens. These frameworks are seen increasingly as barriers to be replaced by new factors of identity awareness.

We think that although the citizens of Europe may be reluctant to say this day after day, they do sense that technical production and development in public culture may by the end of the century rearrange the earlier regional framework of their lives. Global tensions and the economy keep expanding the boundaries of the states, expand and push to transgress them, while the growth of individualization in society is also prying apart these. On the other hand, the citizen is trying to find bases for identity that are different from the territorial framework of the state (ethnic, regional, etc. bases).


Nation State and Classic Liberalism

While the need for the unification of the continent is generally recognized and the only dispute is about the area and levels to which integration should extend, many people and groups reject the demand for reducing states to smaller territorial units and perhaps depriving them of some of their earlier competencies for administration and guidance.

What are the orientations and what are the arguments that question the aspirations in Europe to dissolve state boundaries?

1) Those of the intelligentsia who are attached to the classic liberal principles of the previous century oppose these aspirations because they were raised under the spell of the French ideals of liberty and revolution that reject all collective rights or privileges. This approach considers ethnic affiliation everyone's private affair and does not accept community aspirations based on the above-mentioned principles. The chain of thoughts involved is well known: the individual is linked to the community through his consciousness of citizenship; the state is the most important institution, and it is the state that guarantees political equality and equality before the law. Allowing too much importance to ethnicity is seen as a manifestation of tribal collective ideals. (It is not without reason that the critics of such liberals say that the consciousness of citizenship is just as collective an idea as ethnic awareness except that it relies on different bases. Nor is it an illegitimate objection that, when they assume that identity defined according to citizenship is the only community-building principle, these liberals leave the basic position of liberalism and are curbing free personality growth.)


Nation State and Its Bureaucracy

2) The bureaucracies of European states repudiate aspirations for autonomy, particularly regional autonomy. State bureaucracy organized the administration of society in Europe in the 17th through 20th centuries; and its development was doubtlessly an important precondition for the rise of Europe in the Modern Age. (Public safety, transport, schooling, public health and the social welfare net.) This role ensured social rise for the bureaucracy of the state but it also distanced it from everyday life, particularly in states relying on a central organization. The capital city and the omnipotence of the government have for a hundred years been targets of endeavours to promote the cause of regional autonomy. Central government bureaucracy will at best consider cultural autonomy, and it certainly holds that regional autonomy ambitions for ethnic and economic purposes shall lead to anarchy in both production and in political administration. (Critics say with some legitimacy that allowing for regional autonomies on various levels ensures the proper functioning of administration.)


Anti-Fascist Traditions

3) The possibility of the regional administrative reorganization of European states is attacked by some of the present-day exponents of antifascist political traditions. Especially south-Tyrolean autonomy, the recognition of Croatian and Slovene autonomy to the detriment of a unified Yugoslavia, and finally the institution of an independent Czech Republic and an independent Slovakia within the Czechoslovak Republic have been causes for anxiety. Reference is made to the Europe of 1938 when the centre of Europe was restructured in celebration of the victory of the ideal of the ethnic principle in a way as it is happening today. (Cf. with the content of the previous chapter.) Moreover, mentioned is the extraordinary strengthening of Germany as the start of the process – again similarly to what happened in 1938. (The critiques of the exponents of these views – the latter often called the Conservative Left – regard with some right as a traditional weakness of the European Left the fact that it considered disproportionately important the awareness of social identity in the relationship between individual and community and fashioned political identity on it, while it underestimated the importance of ties to the ethnic community and the native land. These views are objected to for giving preference to the traditional urbanite outlook and remaining insensitive to the national principle being part of the pattern.)


The German Threat

4) Fear of an increase in the German threat crops up regularly in the views of the defenders of state centralism. This anxiety is just as truly present in the region of East Central Europe as it is in the case of England. The argument is that both the separation of Scotland and the establishment of new Central European autonomies, small territorial units would result in a rule of the Deutsche Mark over these territories.

This anxiety and argument indicates that the present balance in Europe is after all a product of the power relations as they existed in 1945 and is built on the political and military power relations of the times. This equilibrium received a jolt when the Soviet Union collapsed and also with the gradual withdrawal of the United States. A more independent Europe may express the actual power relations on the continent, which may tip the balance to show the overweight of Germany. (Of course this holds only if Germany claims the same omnipotence as was the case in the 1930s. In that case the anxiety would not be unfounded.) By the logic of this argument, if the present state domination over a given regional unit that is relatively small ceases, its place will be taken by Germany as possessing already the strongest economy in Europe. By the same line of logic, state administration has to be protected against German expansion. (The critics of this view very well say that Germany shows in fact greater understanding for regional autonomies than France or Britain, though this does not derive from imperialist ambitions but from the traditions of her principles of state organization. Germany and Austria are federal states where the autonomy of certain areas developed even before the nation was established and is in this way already a national tradition. This tradition of autonomies was, of course, repudiated by National Socialism which intended to establish the unified administration of the Reich. However, the principles of German state organization espoused after 1949 express a criticism of national socialism; they express democratic political aspirations, the recognition of a certain degree of autonomies of the smaller territorial units within the same state – in this case within the federal republic.)


Protection of Small Nations

5) Finally, we must not leave out from among the supporters of nation-states a proportion – a probably increasing proportion – of small nations. The small nations ask the not entirely illegitimate question: If the nations in the integrated Europe of the future may in fact retain their cultures and their ethnic (and linguistic) attributes, is that proof against the inroads of the bigger nations? Won't integrated Europe become a Europe of British, French and German (possibly Italian) culture? In their view the nation-state which provides preferential treatment within its boundaries for national traditions through the educational system of the state and the state subsidies granted to culture, is the principal means for ensuring the survival of small national cultures. If citizens lose their own state, their children will also lose the institutions of national culture.

The idea of an integrated Europe mustered large-scale agreement in principle as it was seen that it would in fact put the culture of the continent in a competitive position, but when a real start is made for the dissolution of the earlier regional administrative framework and of national institutions, many people realize that they want to protect the nation state.


History Never Ends

A summary of the present situation (after Maastricht), suggests that integrated Europe makes the states gradually yield up their own sovereignty in regard to military, foreign and financial affairs. In the economic field the continental or regional principle would prevail over the state approach. But let us add that it is not at all inevitable for the regions to emerge with permanent administrative boundaries, i.e. as general units of regional administration with competence over all aspects of political, economic and cultural life as are the classic states of today. As to culture, there the revitalization of small ethnic and religious communities may coexist with being world citizens. (In other words, cultural autonomy will survive as regional organizations – possibly even under the present framework of states, sectioning the states according to autonomies existing on the different levels.)

History, however, never ends. The decisions of today give prevalence to forces that started to work decades ago and mustered enough strength by now to become determinative for a shorter or longer time. But it must not be forgotten that additional forces arose yesterday and are arising today that may play a part in shaping our immediate future. Is it really to be precluded that integrated Europe may fade as an aim for European societies? It it really impossible that European intelligentsia simply fails to hit on the proper principles of regional administration and is unable to make the programme of a unified Europe attractive enough for the centrifugal forces represented by the various national and social interest groups that would prefer to leave alone the Community? It is an additional problem that the pressure of the two Great Powers, of the USA and the USSR, bound the states of Western Europe more closely together. Will the ending of this pressure reduce the cohesion of these states, their sense of needing to rely on each other?


New Types of Integration?

The really big question is, however, posed again by the possible emergence of new technical and economic factors that may eventually become determinative forces. The fast advances in informatics, a further leap ahead in the chips era which has already begun, are such factors. May they not turn the continent away from the earlier dreams of an integrated Europe? And may they not make people forget that inevitably it is the economies of peoples living in close regional proximity that should rely on each other? Will not the development of intercontinental economic systems start a new type of integration – an intercontinental integration in which, while the present state and regional organizations may continue to underpin the larger integration, the units of the larger integration are not cultures that originated on the continental level but constituent entities locked in global dependence?

(In other words, not only the Czech Republic and Poland, but also Poland and South Korea might enter into close production contacts.) And the present interstate agreements and the army of well-groomed diplomats and experts characteristic of the present forces of integration as they developed in Europe from the 16th century on may give place to analogues that will be in fact entirely different in type.

Who would dare say today that future history – even the short-term history of the next ten years – shall not contain any of the above processes?


The Future: Culture Nation

Whichever alternative will become effective, thinkers about the history of the next decades ahead have to do some constructive thinking about the possibilities. In our opinion the preservation of the nations of Europe in their full diversity is in the universal interest of mankind. At the same time, these nations ought to give up their insistence on their economic and political confinement, to oust from the interpretation of the concept of nation the tenets of nation state and national economies. A nation is above all a culture nation, the community whose people share the same language and traditions, and that is how it should survive for the 21st century.


Conclusions for the Code of Conduct

The vision, the image, of the future is very important for every society. This is also the case with the societies of Central Europe. If these societies expect to keep abreast with the world, more precisely, with Western Europe, they should understand rather than copy what is happening there. I think that the inflammable stuff in the tensions between the states and between the nations of the region could be diminished if the key strategies of our regional policy gave up the heritage of the nation state and would acknowledge the presence of forces that urge the new restructuring of regional and administrative units and if we want to preserve ourselves for the 21st century as culture nations proud of our respective national traditions and cultures.

Whether the Europe of free citizens – that dream of the intellectuals, particularly of arts and economic science graduates – is a feasible proposition could be the subject of another study. The questions is whether this thin stratum of the European intellectuals won't itself crack in the clashes between the various community-building principles – views and tenets on state and administration, on the meaning of a culture nation, on social welfare and on religion and ideology.


What Kind of State to Build?
New Political Systems and the Principles of Minority Policy
(A Proposal)


1. Ethnic Diversity is a Human Value

We propose that the new, democratic states recognise national and ethnic diversity – similarly to religious diversity and colourfully different cultures and customs – as a universal human value.

This diversity is embodied in national communities and in individual persons. National traditions and the awareness of affinity are in themselves subject to change. All the natural phenomena of national assimilation and dissimilation are regarded as so many signs of change in the course of which additional human values arise. States refrain from resorting to any administrative means that would force assimilation on any part of the population and at the same time they provide possibilities for dissimilation. The cultural policy of the state is deliberately used to make people conscious of the national values deriving from the ethnic diversity of the region.


2. The State Also Responsible for Preservation of Diversity

Let the new, democratic states declare their awareness of the fact that the preservation of the national and ethnic diversity of the region is a political, cultural and social question. Using all available means at their disposal to preserve this diversity, they shall assure for all peoples and groups, whether of the majority or minority, the conditions for preserving, developing and renewing their national cultures.

They shall provide the conditions through legislation for the political equality of national minorities. If necessary, they will employ positive discrimination in the field of social welfare and culture to enable citizens to overcome the social disadvantages that are often concomitant with minority existence, and will practice positive discrimination to make the survival of the cultures of minority nations possible. They shall willingly undertake the greater than average extra budgetary expenditures involved in providing instruction in the mother tongue for minorities and in keeping up minority customs.


3. To Assuage Minority Conflicts

Let the new, democratic states declare that they realize national and ethnic minority conflicts have been generated in the region, conflicts that obstruct general social, political and economic development for each state in the region and hamper the development and observation of universal humanistic standards of ethics. They realize that these conflicts will not ease spontaneously with the normalization of social and economic contacts but that state administration is also to share in soothing such hostility. They are aware of the fact that the conflicts in question result from combinations of social, cultural, political, emotional and moral tensions. They wish to make efforts to solve these problems or at least to treat and manage them politically.

They will show patience and understanding whenever hurts surface that have accumulated in the nations living in the area as a result of the state and national struggles of the past century. They regard it as their duty to use the means of political power to take the sting out of the emotional antagonisms that have developed in the course of the past centuries dividing the nations living here from each other. They regard it as an obligation to use public instruction, cultural and scientific works, and programmes enjoying state support to eradicate enemy images. They undertake to legally ban all forms of anti-alien acts and incitation against other nations and to apply to the court to punish such behaviour.

According to our proposal, states should refrain from playing off the nations living in their territories against each other, and should devote special attention to creating harmony between minority and majority nation(s). Their minority policy shall focus on guaranteeing equal starting chances politically and socially for the minorities rather than granting advantages to either side. Without gaining the good will, empathy and understanding of the majority nation any minority policy – whether international or on the state level – is doomed to failure.


4. Blind Alleys of History

We propose that the starting point for the minority policies of the democratic states living in the region should be the realization that there is no correspondence – and never was any – between the territorial administrative (political) units (states) and the areas where the nations in the region dwell or have settlements. They should realize that until now all attempts to achieve the ethnic homogenization of the area of the states have only led to additional conflicts. They should realize that neither the adjustment of state borders to ethnic boundaries (territorial revisions) nor the resettlement of ethnic groups to the so-called mother country will solve the problem according to the norms of constructive action in the Europe of our century. Therefore the states have to look for political frameworks that allow the coexistence of a national majority and national minorities, and ought to explore regional forms of administration that ensure the free development of the identity of each nation living in the territory of the given state.


5. New Forces of Community Development, Regional Frameworks of Administration

We recommend attention to the fact that, parallel with the development of these new forms and frameworks, changes are taking place over the entire continent of Europe in the organization of the state as a regional unit of administration.

When states wish to give free way to the growth of national and ethnic identity awareness, when they are looking for various types and frameworks of autonomies they realize that the national and ethnic principle is but one of the forces that shape the new European community and the regions of the continent.

It is generally realized that these regional forces must be allowed free movement because otherwise there will be a decrease in the capacity for human achievement of European societies.

It is also known that the transformation of the political system of the region is taking place after the fall of a regime that did not recognize that there were some alternative possibilities of patterns when regional and community organizations were transformed in the course of history, and that several alternatives will exist in the future as well. Moreover, the big change in the region is taking place at a time when not even Western Europe can show up well-designed, finished models for the development of new systems of regional administration.


6. Change of Regime in Public Thinking

In the past century, the forms of community organization that could have provided a sound civil framework for the coexistence of various ethnic groups, social strata, denominations, and even sexes and age groups (civil unions, societies and clubs, etc.) were weak in the societies of East Central Europe. Therefore, in the last one-hundred years, ethnic and social aspirations appeared in more extreme forms in this region than in Western Europe. The past 45 years definitely discouraged any initiative or popular action from below.

The state has assumed too great a role in the life of the individual person in the societies of the region. Strong traditions of private enterprise likely to ensure the material foundations for personal liberty are missing particularly in the area of the economy (in the field of ownership). The exaggerated interdependence between the life of the individual and the state did not favour the self-organization and administration of little autonomies (small ethnic communities – the minorities included) independent of the hierarchy of the state.

In consequence of state organization in the societies of the region assuming the pattern mentioned, state bureaucracies have played an important role. They are no longer satisfied with organizing and managing the life of communities; they have turned into a force that is vitally interested in the assertion of the excessive force of the state (nation-state) and that hampers the development of autonomies as new forms of communities.

It is a difficulty today that the new type of citizenship consciousness has to develop, to be achieved, in societies that are not prepared for the open outlook to the world that is characteristic elsewhere at the end of the 20th century.

A large part of the societies of the region lived for centuries artificially removed from the leading technical and intellectual civilizations of the world in empires that proved to be blind alleys as a type of state organization (Ottoman Empire, Greater Russia). The Soviet system of the past 45 years tightened the shackles of this isolation by the administrative means employed by the military and by political power. Isolation went together with the prohibition of free trade and free communications. The peoples living in the region were shut out from the internationalization of the world and thus missed out on getting to know foreign cultures and learning to appreciate the distinctive traits of other nations.

Technical and industrial underdevelopment gained expression also in the pattern of settlements. The societies of the region remained largely agrarian in character – so much so that their outlook on life has been restricted by the backwardness and isolation that has become synonymous with the agricultural sector and rural existence in the village.

The administrative organizations of the states of the region now see a need for using all means at their disposal to speed up the change of regime in public thinking and to promote the emergence of a new world of thought on citizenship and nationhood.


7. New Approach Claimed to Nationhood

A change of regime in public thinking is also tantamount to shaping a new type of national consciousness – the recognition that every ethnic group living within the territory of a given regional unit of administration is a builder of the social and cultural unit that constitutes a modern nation. The national cultures that have developed in the region are products of the interaction of the various ethnic groups that have lived here. The present-day nations of the region are anthropologically the products of a thousand years of mixing – and this is especially true in the cultural sense. The equivalence of national cultures means at the same time that no majority nation on the present-day (or one-time) territory of a state can claim for itself any kind of primacy or supremacy. The truly vital tradition of the nations living here, which makes them outstanding on a world scale, is precisely their ethnic diversity and tolerance and not their ambition for exclusiveness.


8. Code of Conduct in Regard to the Minority Issue

As citizens of states experiencing transformation, we are aware of the fact that the change of regime in public thinking can only take place if emotions and manifestations of deformation associated with centuries of suffering can be eradicated as a result of decades of inside struggle and a cleansing process in society and in the economy. Nonetheless, we are certain that politics cannot simply mean following processes occurring automatically according to their own inner laws, but must also be interpreted as the art and science of influencing these processes. That is why we propose to the leading exponents of the states living in the region to promote the development of international norms that may serve as a guideline for the treatment of minority problems.

We think that it is in the interest of every state in the region (of the administration of each) to see the development of a code of conduct that gains international acceptance. This final code may only derive from several different drafts and will probably represent the views of various nations or states.

Drafting codes of conduct is expected to set off a process of clarifying the various outlooks and may later become a contribution undertaken as a condition for admission to the various European or regional integration organizations. Our present proposal for the code of conduct is aimed at promoting a clarification of views. Perhaps it may also be instrumental in taking out the disputes from the arenas of internal political struggles, the forums of heated barrel demagogy for votes, and from the offices of state administration which are anyway overburdened with tasks and responsibilities.


Principles of a Code of Conduct To Address the Minority Issue
(A Proposal**)


1. Citizens and Constituents of the State

Every citizen of the democratic state is a constituent of the given state, regardless of when he or she received citizenship, or settled on the territory of the state, and regardless of religious or national (minority or majority) affiliation.

By granting citizenship for an individual living in a given country, the community recognizes, and attaches importance to, the person's constructive participation in building the institutions of the community and in creating the material and individual wealth of the community. Recognition of one's being a constituent of the state is not a historical question and not even a question of family roots but a matter of considering whose work is needed in the present and future of the community. (Citizenship – including multiple citizenships – is regulated by the constitution of the given state.)


2. Belonging to a Minority

It is the civic right of any person who holds citizenship in a given country to classify himself in the national or ethnic group (minority) to which he feels he belongs. The minority has collective rights. No birth certificate or any other cultural or community certificate is needed for identification with a minority.

Time spent on the territory of the given state cannot be considered as a condition for recognizing minority status.

In other words, such categories as native, have lived here for a hundred years, etc. are to be eliminated as conditions of membership in to the minority. The minimum number given in the constitution establishes how many citizens have to have declared themselves (have to be registered) as affiliated with a minority for recognition of their minority status, i.e. being legal persons enjoying certain collective rights.

The states go on record that ethnic or other distinct identification does not involve discrimination and guarantee equal treatment for those who belong to this type of community within the state.

The states declare that they shall not act on behalf of any majority nation to increase the number of minorities in any adjoining country – not even with reference to allegedly complex measures. Declaring one's belonging to a minority shall be considered a most sacred right of the individual and is strictly a matter of personal decision.

The states of the region make efforts to achieve that the statistical figures on minorities should be compiled and arrived at on the basis of the same principles in every state.

The states declare that they shall abandon attempts to promote or speed up assimilation. They also declare their intention not to carry on propaganda for dissimilation in the name of some majority nation on the territory of an adjoining country.

Natural assimilation and natural dissimilation are regarded as one's own affair, and it is considered impermissible to rush either decision by administrative means or propaganda.


3. Minorities are Constituents of the State

The state is inhabited by nations (ethnic groups) that form the majority group and minority groups. Although the state is named after the majority nation, it does not discriminate between those who belong to the majority or minority category. The culture, economic production results and institutions of any present-day state are the fruits of the labour of all the nations that have ever lived there or live there today. In other words, every nation – majority nation and minority nation – in the state are equally constituents of the state.

The time or manner (immigrant invited to settle, etc.) of settlement must not influence exercising the rights of those who live in a given state today. It is suggested that the examination of these factors be left to historical study. Similarly, it is a topic for historical science which nation (minority or majority) spent a longer time in the territory of the present-day state due to various territorial restructurings and waves of emigration and immigration. Questions such as who was here first are also subjects for historical studies and must not serve as grounds for any present privileges.


4. The Nature of Minority (Collective) Rights

Minority rights extend to the freedom of organization on a minority basis (5), personal autonomy (6), and in particular cases to the question of regional autonomy (7).


5. Freedom of Organization on a Minority Basis

a) The states ensure that the national minorities may establish organizations of various levels (local, national and international) on their territory.

Within the state, citizens may organize themselves according to various criteria in order to live up to their personal identity image. The states regard these aspirations as a sign of a high developmental level of civil consciousness, a kind of manifestation that strengthens the community.

The state undertakes the obligation to have for the organizations in question the same legal provisions in force on its territory that apply to associations, societies and clubs. Only unconstitutional activities may be restricted. The legal status of the minority organizations is determined by the constitution or other laws.

Legislation decides whether the given social institutions are to be given budgetary or any other kind of support. The states accept that it is in their interest to have citizens manifest their (ethnic) differences in an organized form. However, spontaneous and community organizations (voluntary and civil associations, etc.) do not have strong traditions in the region and were banned during the past forty years. Thus, the operation of minority organizations indicates the unfolding of democratization in the region.


b) The autonomous organizations of minorities may be associations or societies whose activities extend to representation of special interests of the given minority, preservation of the historical and cultural heritage that hold together minorities, and also to discussion of the social tensions connected with minority existence.

These organizations are autonomous institutions of the minorities; they represent the political, cultural and social interests of minorities, expose tensions and make recommendations on easing and treating them. The states acknowledge that a good many forms of organizations may still emerge. It is generally recognized that the various national minority organizations in the region look back on different traditions. In a number of cases it is the churches that keep up ethnic separation (as this is the case with Bosnians and Pomeranians). The Jews living widely dispersed over the area (diaspora) and generally carrying a significant role in the economic, cultural and politicial development of the region, define their identity and community and thus their minority affinities in various ways. (Identity according to their common derivation, identity on the basis of religion, Jewish identity on the basis of feeling a bond with the distant state of Israel.) There are distinct differences between the identification efforts of the Gypsies whose significance is growing in the region. Historical experience calls attention to the need for efforts being made by the states to provide assistance for the organizations of Gypsies.


c) In political life the state makes it possible for minorities to form independent parties organized along minority (ethnic, religious, etc.) lines on the local or national level.

In the parliamentary and political life of the state all taxpaying citizens – minorities included – may participate, vote or be elected only on the basis of each individual person having the right to one vote. In the case of parliamentary elections, registration with a minority party precludes registration with a political party organized on a different basis.


d) State power as the embodiment of all citizens (and not only of the majority nation) treats national minorities as partners. It undertakes the obligation to strive for arriving at a general accord with these organizations on all questions of conscience, politics and economy that concern the special interests of the minorities. The partnership between state and minority (interest representation), and their respective share in decision-making is regulated by law.

The states of the region stress that they do not regard the representation of collectives as solved under the present parliamentary system, but do consider a solution desirable. (E.g., Assembly of Nations, National Parliament of Interest Groups etc.) They do not exclude the possibility of setting up (as discussed in the general part) a Special, Second chamber of Parliament for the representation of the various groups of interest.


6. Personal Autonomy

Minority citizens are entitled to personal autonomy. This includes the totality of rights, social welfare and cultural provisions that ensure the equality of opportunity for all citizens regardless of minority or majority status.

When they chart their own democratic transformation, the states of the region should build on their own traditions and consider the practices that have proven valuable in other parts of the world. They pay special attention to the results of social development in Europe and to the autonomy of the individual, which is a fundamental principle in the organization of communities in Europe. They take it for granted that all citizens are to be insured of the fulfilment of their various identities on the personal level – national and ethnic identities included.

The states of the region accept the fact that the society living in their territory is nationally and ethnically extraordinarily mixed on the personal level and on the level of small communities. Often even the different members of the same family have different national identities and this can hardly be reflected by statistical data.

Ensuring full personal autonomy is the most important principle to be observed for smoothing the coexistence of ethnicities that are, in certain areas mixed even within families and are regionally and administratively almost inseparable.

The states declare that they consider the national and ethnic diversity of the population valuable. Therefore they want to ensure the preservation of this diversity and build the most extensive personal autonomy possible for the individual.


a) Personal autonomy – right of self-government for minorities

Personal autonomy includes the right of citizens of minority status to elect their own political, cultural and interest organizations, and propose the establishment of new institutions to be organized on a minority basis. (See Points 5 b) and c) on this issue.)


b) Personal autonomy – right to use the mother tongue in all situations

Minority citizens may freely use their mother tongues regardless of the percentage of the population (of the village or of the country) their minority group represents. Freedom of using the language of one's choice extends to all aspects of private and social life, to communication in all organizations and in administrative offices (including the parliament), and to the mass media. Citizens of minority status have access to the services of interpreters paid from the state budget.

Fostering the mother tongue and the culture it represents is not only a way to preserve national and ethnic attributes. Language is, above all, the general means of contact within any community and between communities. There is evidence that even today, at the end of the 20th century, the vast majority of mankind are able to educate and express themselves effectively only in their mother tongue. In the past when the states did not support the absorption of culture in the mother tongue, the members of the majority nations gained unjustified advantages in comparison to the national minorities in the fields of culture and economy. It is actually in the interest of citizens belonging to majority nations that all persons living in their proximity, in the same regional, administrative or industrial community should be well qualified both vocationally and culturally.

All this is particularly important in the region of Central Europe, where the standards of labour and the efficiency of production are significantly lower than the levels already achieved in the most advanced parts of the world. Without overcoming this disadvantage, the region will never be able to catch up with the production standards of advanced cultures.

The states in the region are aware of the fact that, in the present phase, significant positive discrimination is required in favour of the minorities if they are to be assured full access to the benefits of culture in the mother tongue.

The fact is that, in contrast to practices in the Western European states, many small languages are still in literary use in Central Europe at the end of the 20th century. While the Scottish and Welsh speak English, and the Occitans and Bretons are best able to express themselves in French, the peoples living in this region can communicate only in their mother tongues well enough to become effective members of modern industrial society. Moreover, as opposed to the multilingual federations of Western Europe (Switzerland, Alsace, and South Tyrol) the languages of the nations living in the region of Central Europe are spoken by comparatively too few people to exist as major world languages. Keeping up these languages is actually costly and in some ways contrary to the interests of international integration. Still, their contributions are clearly valuable; the world would be poorer without them. As there are on both sides of the state borders minorities that speak the language of the adjoining state as their mother tongues, they and the languages they speak may easily function as adhesive material for the new types of ethnic and regional communities in the area.


c) Personal autonomy – right to the use of the mother tongue on all levels of education

Ensuring the various levels of instruction in the mother tongue means that in every type of state institution for education, definite conditions should be set by law (law on education, minority law) for the provision of facilities from the Budget for mastery of the mother tongue in local or national institutions. Special attention is to be given to the development of a system of minority instruction in the mother tongue in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, and in state institutions for the training of skilled workers. The states should be aware of the fact that the problems in this field, which inevitably impose an extra burden on minorities, may only be eased by means of positive discrimination.

In the region – above all, in former Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia – sound practical methods have been developed for training in the mother tongue for dispersed ethnic groups. The state – even if it is one where the licencing of private educational institutions is not part of the legal system – shall allow the founding of institutions of minority education and culture. States and their national representations of minorities should strive for ensuring that instruction in the private educational institutions of the minorities be compatible with state-determined curricula. If the respective private educational institution prefers a different course of study, the state must show readiness to accept the differences. Private schools for minorities shall receive the same subsidy per student from the central budget as is granted to each state or public community institution according to the number of its pupils.

Special consideration is to be given to ensuring the possibility of using the mother tongue in higher education. It must be obvious that the training of an intelligentsia whose members are capable of functioning in the other tongue is a most effective way of improving the general education of minorities. Local possibilities should be optimally utilized in agreement with the minority representations. (Autonomous universities, departments and faculties, and special majors.)


d) Personal autonomy – the right to cherish customs and traditions

Regardless of the proportion of the population the minority represents at the given settlement and within the country, its members should be enabled to practice their historically developed customs freely, to observe their holidays, cherish the symbols that are part of their heritage, and to display their national colours in public.

As every citizen of the state, members of the minorities should be enabled to choose the way of celebrating the rites associated with turns in their personal lifes (baptism, funerals, weddings, initiation of a boy into adulthood, etc.); they may freely opt for the secular and religious holidays of their ancestors, and may keep anniversaries as they wish. No one may prevent anyone from doing so, and no one may discriminate against anyone on that basis. Any discrimination against a person for such reasons is punishable by law. Anyone is free to spell his or her name according to personal preference.


e) Personal autonomy – positive social and cultural discrimination

Through its administrative and social welfare policy, the state pays special attention to the rehabilitation of minority citizens who find themselves on the peripheries of society on account of the past disadvantages involved in minority existence. In this field the state shall rely particularly on the autonomous organizations of minorities.

Parallel with the principle that all citizens are equal before the law, the state professes that in the fields of social and moral education the principle of positive discrimination is valid.

States that are currently building their democratic institutions are aware of the shortcomings of the institutions that should serve these goals and of the lack of traditions in this type of rehabilitation in social and moral education for minorities. Even the noble principles for the treatment of minorities so often voiced during the past forty years by the dictatorship of the proletariat fell short of their avowed aims.


f) Knowing the culture of the majority nation

At the same time, minorities ought to realize that knowledge of the language and culture of the majority nation is in the interest of all citizens. Consequently, in (state-controlled) educational institutions for minorities, or in schools or divisions where the language of instruction is a minority language, it is compulsory to teach and study as a second language the tongue of the majority nation(s) of the given state. (See also reference to this in the section below on regional autonomies.)

Minorities recognize that the majority language(s) in use in the territory of the state are necessary for forming and keeping up human relations and for the functioning of technical and economic organizations. It is the vital interest of minorities to maintain sound and close relations with the majority nation. Minorities regard the majority language(s) as well as their own tongue as the most important instruments of communication and also appreciate them as means for conveying the culture and customs of the other nation.


7. Regional Autonomies

The state enables its minorities to set up regional autonomies. A regional autonomy provides the totality of rights that are valid within a geographically (and administratively) defined area. Certain rights and licences are vested by the state in the local self-government of an area inhabited largely by the given minority.

Regional autonomies do not (must not) represent divisions in the territorial unity of the state. On the contrary, they strengthen bonds between citizens and the state where they live. The state should be aware of the fact that it is in its own interest that all citizens living within its territory should be bound both in sentiment and in consciousness to their native community or to the smallest productive unit of the country where they spend their everyday lives.

Despite the historical processes that affected the settlements and increased ethnic mixing or mingling in the region, there are areas where minorities constitute the majority in certain settlements. Such areas are formed, for instance, by the Belorussians in Poland, the Hungarians and Carpatho-Ukrainians in Slovakia, the Hungarians in Romania, as well as Germans and Slovaks in Hungary, Serbs in Croatia, Croats and Hungarians in Serbia, Turks in Bulgaria and so on.

A regional autonomy as a regional administrative unit is either vested with the same rights by the state as are given to administrative units organized in accordance with a principle other than ethnic or national, or the state regulates the status of regional autonomies by a separate law.

A regional autonomy means political administrative and full linguistic cultural autonomy.

Both the majority and minority nations in the region shall be aware of the fact that the regional administrative framework is undergoing transformation in Europe, including Central and Eastern Europe. (Cf. previous parts of this work.) They recognize that the regional autonomies now being formed on national and ethnic bases may be a new type of regional administration but are not the only new forms and the territorial organizational principle of the region might also change. It is the responsibility of the state to set up in any given area administrative units that correspond to the intention and interests of the local majority.

The administrative pattern and general political structure of autonomous areas must be compatible with the political and administrative order of the state.

The states shall be aware of the fact that the administrative order and general political structure of the regional and communal autonomies (self-governments) each represent widely different traditions. Therefore, they hold that when the internal order of the minority autonomies of any area is to undergo detailed regulation, the views of the local national and other interest organizations as well as of the church organizations should be brought into accord with each other and with the administrative order of the state. (Cf. Point 5/b on the different traditions of organizations and autonomy for the different minorities.)

A minority autonomy may be a communal autonomy (8) or a regional autonomy(9).


8. Communal Autonomies

Communal autonomies form the basis for all regional autonomies – including ethnic ones. The village or commune is the most natural unit of settlement. The state shall yield certain rights of various levels to the self-governments of these units.

The state may ensure in the villages autonomies of various types for the minorities. It grants – according to existing conditions – linguistic annd cultural autonomy, or political and administrative autonomy with complete linguistic and cultural freedom. The former is partial, and the latter is complete communal autonomy.


a) Partial communal autonomies

In communities where the minorities represent a significant statistical proportion – amounting to as much as 10-20 per cent – the local self-government gives the minority relative communal autonomy;. This means that in the official language and in the signs in public places attention is given to bilingual designation, and at communal functions and events and on public buildings to the use of the seal and colours (symbols) of the local minority. The local government in consultation with the minorities in the area insures the organization of instruction in the local (regional) schools. If the minority represents 10-20 per cent of the local population, assistance is also to be provided for the maintenance of a local paper and cultural associations functioning in their language. The Budget – local and state budgets – should set aside proportionate allocations for the requirements of the minority or minorities.

The community ensures (from the budget of the local government or of the state) maintenance of the proper institutions for the survival – as the minorities desire – of traditional customs (funerals, weddings, baptism, observation of their own holidays, etc.).

The state regulates the relationship between the mother tongue and bilingualism in the law (education and minority laws).


b) Complete communal autonomy

In case 51 per cent of the population of a settlement belongs to some minority registered in the given state, the community is to be given full minority autonomy extending to political and administrative self-government and full linguistic-cultural autonomy.

If the minority representing at least 51 per cent of the local population so desires, the mother tongue of this 51 per cent is given the status of the first language of the community in administration, political life, education, and in the mass media supported from communal funds.

The majority of the community undertakes the obligation that no criteria of ethnic affiliation other than knowledge of the local majority language is to be required of the employees who make up the office apparatus. The laws of the state – including those concerning paid employees – are obligatory under self-government as well.

The 51% majority of the community shall treat the minority inhabitants of the commune in the same manner as the treatment due to minorities in any other part of the state. (See Point 8/a)


9. Regional Minority Autonomy

In areas where several communities whose populations consist in 51 per cent or more of the same minority in a cohesive unit, the states shall strive to create regional minority autonomies and yield to them various licenses as regulated by legislation.

Regional autonomies are vested with the same rights as provided for full community autonomies for minorities. (Cf. Point 8.) In other words, these rights extend to the political-, administrative and linguistic cultural territories. (Cf. Point 7.)

The national autonomy of a community that happens to have a different majority than that of the regional minority autonomy where it is located remains, of course, intact.

As it has been pointed out, regional minority autonomies are compatible with the political administrative system of the given state as a whole.

Internal order – including the interrelationship of the communities, the effects of changes in the majority patterns of given communities on regional autonomy, and the system of representation in villages – is determined by legislation in agreement with the minority organizations and the local self-governments.


10. Mutual Assistance of the States

The states hold it self-evident that their citizens may be members of national communities that constitute the minority nation in the adjoining state. (Cf. what was written earlier on the concept of culture nation.) It is their intention that the national minorities should form links between regional administrative units and states. Consequently they make it possible for their citizens to carry on cultural and associative or club activities in a neighbouring (or more distant) state. The states take it for granted and welcome that minorities living in their territories receive help from the majority nation of another state for ensuring the functioning of their autonomies of various levels, above all improvements in instruction in the mother tongue and in maintaining customs and traditions. The states recognize that minority affairs are not internal affairs.

At the same time, the states refrain from using possible problems appearing in minority policy in the territory of another state for purposes of agitation against the political system of that state violating thereby the principle of the sovereignty of states.

They hold it their responsibility to build interstate institutional systems (multilateral and bilateral working committees on minority affairs; interparliamentary or joint standing committees of experts, etc.) that on the one hand plan and assist the formation of new frameworks for the coexistence of culture nations, and on the other hand, address the conflicts arising to relieve interstate relations from this burden.

The states give up any intention to hamper the distribution in their own territory of the cultural products of nations living in other countries. On the contrary, guided by the need to preserve the minority cultures in their territory, they support the import of books, periodicals, films and other means necessary for keeping up the culture and traditions associated with the mother tongues of minorities. The free distribution of cultural and intellectual products is a means of guaranteeing human rights and at the same time relieves the state budget from part of the extra expenses necessary for preserving minority cultures. Only an open violation of the constitution of a given state is regarded as reason for restricting the free flow of cultural products.


11. International Institutions and Guarantees

The states of East Central Europe are aware of the fact that the fundamental principles of handling the minority question may be formulated only through international cooperation. They also see the need for calling into existence international coordinating institutions whose participants are experts from the states of the region, representatives of parliaments and governments, and delegates of autonomous minority organizations of the region. These organizations may be associated with the integrative European (regional) institutional systems that are essential for speeding up European integration. The states do not exclude the creation of a European Council on Minorities, Council on Minorities of the States of Central Europe, etc.

It is commonly known that the traditions of interstate integration are weak and fraught with blind alleys in the region. Partly the authoritarian organization of the political system and partly politics based on a sphere of interest hampered the emergence of truly integrated systems. Not even the organizations of international cooperation (economic, military, foreign affairs, etc.) within the system offered institutions designed for the treatment of minority problems.

The states recommend the elaboration of a system of guarantees for the legal protection of minorities parallel with setting up international minority institutions of an integrating character. Apart from the independent courts existing within the individual states, the creation of an international minority court – or several courts of this kind – is deemed necessary.

Regrettably, independent courts – an important institution in advanced democracies – rely on but weak traditions in the states of the region; moreover the Soviet system eroded the foundations under even these shaky traditions. Neither the proper legal institutions nor intellectuals trained in the field are available.


The states of the region realize that centuries of national enmities and lasting periods of confrontation between state and nation are bound to remain for a long time sources of danger for political and everyday life. Political administrations are to survey these threats, to form long term conceptions, and then call to life and maintain the proper institutions. This intention, as well as the sharpening of minority conflicts are at once products of the transformation of political systems and conditions for the material, intellectual, and social advancement of the region. Mutual goodwill and benevolence on the part of political administrations and the intelligentsia are the main requirements for easing the tensions.


*Cf. among others: documents of the Paris, Copenhagen, Moscow conferences (May 1990–September 1991), the documents of the Paris Chart of New Europe (September 1990, the second version), the report if the Geneve Council of Experts of Minority Problems (1991), the report of the Carrington Commission, the documents of the European Council about the protection of minorities (1991), South Tyrolean plans for the protection of European minorities , various other submitted to the UN.
** The straightforward wording of the ensuing text aims at making the points of this code of conduct clear and does not at all mean that the author would believe in the easy acceptability of his proposals.