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10th anniversary of the Memorandum on bilingual topographical signs in Carinthia

Today, ten years have passed since the conclusion of the Memorandum on bilingual topographical signs, the official language and measures for cooperation with the Slovenian-speaking national community, which was signed on 26 April 2011 by representatives of the Austrian Federal Government, the Provincial Government of Carinthia and three organisations of Carinthian Slovenians in Klagenfurt.

For decades, bilingual topographical signs have been the most frequently mentioned issue related to the visibility of the Slovenian language in Carinthia. The compromise arrangement was an important step towards the implementation of the commitments under Article 7 of the Austrian State Treaty and the internal legal regulations of the Republic of Austria.

The Memorandum was also important in terms of deepening the understanding between the Slovenian and German-speaking populations and recognising the historical presence of the Slovenian community in Carinthia. The latter was confirmed by the Carinthian Constitution in 2017, which reads that “language and cultural diversity in Austrian Carinthia is reflected in the Slovenian national community”. The Memorandum has also brought positive dynamics to relations between the Republic of Slovenia and the Republic of Austria and the Federal State of Carinthia, which was especially evident on the occasion of the anniversary of the Carinthian plebiscite last October, attended by the presidents of both countries for the first time.

An important element of the arrangement is the “open clause” which, in addition to the 164 bilingual topographical sings listed in the Memorandum, allows for the setting up of additional bilingual topographical sings based at the discretion of the municipalities. The latter has been applied in only a handful of cases within the last ten years. We believe that additional bilingual topographical sings will contribute to strengthening coexistence and overcoming the historical differences between the Slovenian and German-speaking populations in Carinthia.