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22:28, 2 June, 2023
24 December 2018, 13:02

European experience of regulating interethnic relations

Mamut Osmanov


The aim: defining the tools and mechanisms used in some European countries in order to develop recommendations for the Crimean Tatar civic and political activists.

The main areas of activity of the policy of regulation of interethnic relations in most European countries are:

  1. prevention of interethnic and interethnic conflicts;
  2. migration and demographic processes; the formation of a single nation;
  3. ethno cultural processes (educational, language, etc.).

The objects of the policy of regulation of interethnic relations can be both all citizens and their individual categories, namely, ethnos, national minorities, diaspora, as well as individual authorities.

Let us consider some examples of the regulation of inter-ethnic relations by the countries of Europe.

The Constitution of Spain (Article 2) defines and guarantees the rights to autonomy for nationalities and regions. There are 17 autonomous regional communities in the country, 4 of which - Andalusia, Galicia, Catalonia, the Basque Country - have full autonomy. A wide autonomy, in particular, and the right to implement legislative power, has 20 regions of Italy, and 5 regions (Sicily, Sardinia, Trentino-Alto Adige, Friuli-Venezia-Julia, Valle d'Aosta) are endowed with special functions and conditions of autononomies, which enshrined in special constitutional laws.

An interesting example of the ultimate success of territorial autonomy is the South Tyrol. This province in Italy, where Austria is a country of origin, was first established to protect the linguistic and cultural rights of the South Tyroleans - its “titular” German-speaking majority. Two other language groups coexist with them: one is Italians, and another one is very small, which consists of speakers of Ladin and reaches only 4% of the total population. Having passed through the difficult and painful period of world wars, occupations, annexations and aggressive separatism shown by acts of terrorism in a certain period in the XX century, today this territory has a high level of self-government, its own parliament, government and president, and is recognized as a “success story” which can serve as a model for resolving inter-ethnic confrontations and protecting linguistic minorities. An important feature of the autonomy of the South Tyrol is that its status is guaranteed internationally; this is enshrined in article 2 of the constitutional law. This means that the autonomy of the South Tyrol cannot be narrowed or questioned unilaterally. The particular interest (in the context of the Crimea) is that everyone employed in the public service should be able to speak two languages, and this is verified by conducting language proficiency exams, the delivery of which is confirmed by a certificate. The presentation of certificate is mandatory for entering the service and for promotion, or transfer to another position or another organization. This requirement applies to all employees, from drivers to directors and heads of departments, and the principle “the higher the position, the more difficult the exam” applies.

The South Tyrol is sometimes called as “autonomy for all”, meaning that in this dynamic autonomy, all three language groups have their share of representation in government and administrations, and have priority access to employment. Their languages ​​are supported in such a way as to maximize their use in everyday life. Such openness gave rise to a sense in the members of the three language groups that autonomy belongs to them all, and the growing awareness that everyone can contribute to the life of this province. In addition, the individual rights of every citizen residing in a given province are also reliably protected.

Interethnic relations in Bosnia and Herzegovina are regulated by protecting the political rights and interests of national groups in the system of state institutions. The main regulatory mechanisms are: the distribution of power among the three national groups, which in turn should provide them with equal influence on political decision-making and government, despite the difference in the size of the three national groups; the rule of a parallel majority in the process of forming state bodies, which prevents nationalist leaders from coming to power and spawns cross-national political strategies; the right of "veto" for representatives of national segments, realized in the principle of the "vital interests of the nation", which guarantees the political security of the minority from the dictates of the majority. Such an approach is justified in any multinational country, in particular, in Ukraine, since representatives of the Crimean Tatars must necessarily influence government decisions regarding the preservation of their identity.

Regulation of interethnic relations through regional policy is used in Germany. S. Turyanitsa notes: “The Germany, in its domestic national policy, pays attention to the issue of equitable equal development of regions, which is a logical consequence of the formation of the fundamental basis for resolving the national issue”.

However, at the same time, the Basic Law of Germany does not contain articles directly dedicated to national groups. Although the practice of the system of rights of national groups at the state level existed in its time. Thus, paragraph 118 of the Imperial Constitution of May 28, 1849 proclaimed: “The non-German-speaking part of the German people is guaranteed the right to use their native language in primary schools, in local self-government and in court” [4], and the first attempt to introduce a common Imypr Constitution, which declared the legal elements of the national policy, has not been implemented. Later, with the adoption of the Weimar Constitution of August 11, 1919, Art. 113 enshrined: "part of the people of the state is not limited in law and administrative procedures in its free national development, in particular in the use of the native language in primary schools, internal self-government and in court." According to the German Constitution in the private sphere, the use and study of each language is guaranteed. The private sphere is not limited to the scope of the family, but covers all non-state forms, such as - private media, enterprises, institutions. In addition, in Germany there is no state religion. Freedom of faith, conscience, religious or ideological beliefs, which are guaranteed by paragraph 1 of Art. 4 of the Basic Law, besides another, includes: the right of free choice regarding joining (or non-joining) to a religious or ideological community, the right of parents to provide such religious and moral education of their children as they see fit, and generally the right to act according to their prejudices.

The overwhelming majority of the national and ethnic groups in Germany are members of religious communities and belong to the Protestant or Catholic Church. According to the Basic Law, they have the right to create their own private educational institutions and manage them according to the law. These educational institutions include schools that teach in the appropriate language. Private schools, where training is conducted in the appropriate language, have the right to seek their own sources of funding without any restrictions or discrimination from the state budget, international sources or the private sector. Persons belonging to national and ethnic groups have the right to form and support their own organizations or associations, associations.

The rules that relate to the procedure for the selection of belonging to national groups and which constitute the subjective right of citizens in German law are directly enshrined as follows:

1) the right of freedom of individual choice in Germany is based on the general freedom of human rights, which is guaranteed in Art. 2 of the Basic Law: “Everyone has the right to express himself as far as it does not concern the rights of others or does not violate constitutional order or moral norms”;

2) recognition of belonging to a certain national group is free, i.e. the citizen has the right to choose whether to consider himself owned or not; the individual makes this choice himself;

3) Art. 116 of the Constitution states: “The Germans, in the understanding of this Basic Law, are anyone who has German citizenship,” i.e. the scope of the rights enshrined in the Federal Republic extends fully to every person belonging to a certain national group of the Federal Republic of Germany; hence the conclusion that the special status of the latter is based on the general legal status of a citizen, making up his supplement;

4) realization of the rights associated with this choice cannot put a person at a disadvantage.

The Saxony and the Brandenburg have the greatest experience in the regulation of interethnic relations, in whose constitutions the provision on the legal basis of ethnic minorities within the land limits is fixed; their rights in the sphere of culture, education, economy are ensured; support is provided to national media, etc.

Article 27 of the Constitution of Hungary establishes the position of national and ethnic groups, guarantees the right to form self-governing bodies (local and national), envisages the adoption of laws to ensure the representation of national and ethnic groups living in Hungary, and promoting cultural development. Efficient institutional mechanisms have also been established in the system of state authorities, namely:

- The Ombudsman for National and Ethnic Groups, whose main function is to investigate or commission an investigation into the violation of their rights, and to take measures to eliminate these violations;

- The office for national and ethnic groups, the purpose of which was the formation - coordination of government programs and tasks in the field of development of national and ethnic groups.

Thus, Hungary has created a system for ensuring the rights of ethnic groups, which contains powerful mechanisms for protecting and engaging in public administration.

Each country can at its discretion and in any way influence the ethno-national situation on its territory, but the main thing is to observe the rights of all the representatives of ethnic groups who live in its territory. A number of documents have already been adopted within the framework of an international European organization and at the level of each individual state of the European region, but the actual situation shows many controversial points and the reluctance of many states to actually solve problems related to the existence of other nationalities (indigenous people) on their territory.


It should be emphasized that the issue of autonomy has always been quite controversial, especially in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The implementation of policies aimed at autonomy includes the pursuit of at least two main objectives, namely, meeting and implementing the requirements of national groups (indigenous peoples) to preserve their ethno-cultural identity, on the one hand, and ensuring the preservation of the state in its internationally recognized border level, on the other.

Thus, the two approaches, legal (human rights) and safe, are actually interconnected, and which of them prevails depends on specific circumstances, such as internal and external political situation, time frames.

In order to improve the regulatory framework for the regulation of interethnic relations, propose to borrow relevant positive foreign experience, namely: to protect the political rights and interests of national groups in the system of state institutions (Hungary); on methods of administrative and legal regulation (Germany); to consolidate the foundations of autonomy (the experience of Spain and Finland).

Having studied the foreign experience, it is possible to avoid mistakes in the construction of a policy for regulating interethnic relations, but it should be borne in mind that borrowed norms of foreign legislation must be “adapted”.

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