Centenary of the Carinthian Plebiscite
Today marks 100 years of the Carinthian referendum, after which the southern part of Carinthia and the Slovenian population living there became part of the Republic of Austria. On this anniversary, the two countries are drawing attention to the elements of their shared history and, inevitably, also to the current situation and expectations of the Slovenian ethnic minority in the provinces of Carinthia and Styria about improving their regulatory and material position in accordance with the obligations of the Republic of Austria under international law. These obligations are set out in Article 7 of the 1955 State Treaty on the Establishment of an Independent and Democratic Austria, which guarantees the Slovenian ethnic minority the right to education in its mother tongue, the right to use Slovenian as an official language, and the right to Slovenian or bilingual topographical inscriptions in administrative and judicial districts with Slovenian and mixed populations. It also guarantees the Slovenian ethnic minority the right to participate in cultural, administrative and judicial institutions on equal terms with other Austrian nationals. In 2011, considerable progress was made with the agreement on the erection of 168 bilingual inscriptions. The atmosphere in Carinthia has improved and the majority and the minority groups have coexisted side by side. Nevertheless, certain commitments remain unfulfilled.
On this occasion, the Republic of Slovenia highlights the importance of the full implementation of commitments enshrined in Article 7 of the Austrian State Treaty, as they are essential to the preservation and development of the Slovenian ethnic minority in the Republic of Austria. In this context, Slovenia welcomes the objectives of the Government of the Republic of Austria set out for the 2020-2024 period in this area and calls on the Government to resume the comprehensive dialogue with representatives of ethnic minorities for the implementation of these commitments as soon as possible.
Today’s ceremony in Klagenfurt marking the centenary of the plebiscite with the symbolic participation of both presidents provides a new opportunity and a stepping stone for taking further steps to protect the rights of the Slovenian ethnic minority in Austria. The presence of the highest officials sends an important message in favour of endeavours to build a modern form of coexistence at the heart of Europe which will set the stage for increased cooperation and the evolution of nations, cultures and identities of both the majority and the minority.