COUNCIL OF EUROPE
COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS
on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 4 February 2004
at the 870th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)
The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Articles 24 to 26 of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (hereinafter referred to as “the Framework Convention”);
Having regard to Resolution (97) 10 of 17 September 1997 setting out rules adopted by the Committee of Ministers on the monitoring arrangements under Articles 24 to 26 of the Framework Convention in particular rule 391 of Resolution (97) 10;
Having regard to the voting rule adopted in the context of adopting Resolution (97) 102;
Having regard to the instrument of ratification submitted by Austria on 31 March 1998;
Recalling that the Government of Austria transmitted its state report in respect of the first monitoring cycle under the Framework Convention on 15 November 2000;
Whereas the Advisory Committee accepted the invitation of the Government of Austria to send a delegation to gather further information in Austria; this visit taking place from 18 to 21 December 2001;
Whereas the Advisory Committee's opinion on the implementation of the Framework Convention by Austria was adopted on 16 May 2002 and then transmitted to the Permanent Representative of Austria and communicated to the permanent representatives of all member states and to the representative of a non-member state Party as document CM(2002)91 and subsequently made public by the Austrian Government;
Whereas the Government of Austria submitted its written comments on the opinion of the Advisory Committee, these written comments having been communicated to the delegations of all member states and a non-member state Party as an addendum to document CM(2002)91 dated 17 October 2002;
Having examined the Advisory Committee's opinion and the written comments of the Government of Austria;
Having also taken note of comments by other governments;
1. Adopts the following conclusions concerning the implementation of the Framework Convention by Austria:
- Austria has made particularly commendable efforts to implement the Framework Convention in respect of the Slovenes and Croats living in the Länder of Carinthia and Burgenland, notably in the field of media and education. Furthermore, important legal guarantees, both at constitutional and sub-constitutional level, have recently been adopted to complete the legal and institutional framework for the protection of national minorities, a matter of particular significance for Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks and Roma.
- Despite steps to support the Slovenian minority of Styria, there remains a need for considerably more determined measures from the authorities to help this community to preserve its identity, notably in the field of media and participation in public life.
- There is scope for improvement in the media sector, in particular concerning the creation and/or development of radio and television programmes for the Czech, Slovak and Hungarian minorities.
- Notwithstanding recent positive judicial developments at the level of the Constitutional Court, there is a need to encourage further the use of minority languages in relations with administrative authorities in Carinthia and Burgenland, notably as concerns the Hungarian language. Furthermore, serious problems remain as regards the display of bilingual topographical indications in the municipalities concerned in Carinthia. These problems might negatively affect the harmonious coexistence between persons belonging to the Slovene minority and persons belonging to the majority unless increased efforts are made to promptly identify practical solutions in consultation with the Slovene minority.
- In the field of education, consideration should be given to reinforcing the existing opportunities for being taught Hungarian, Czech and Slovak or for receiving instruction in these languages, particularly in the city of Vienna where greater attention also needs to be given to the situation of the Croats. Concerning education available for the Slovenian and Croatian minorities, there is scope for improvement as regards the transition from bilingual primary to bilingual secondary schools.
- Despite valuable efforts, considerable socio-economic differences between many Roma and the rest of the population persist. Further measures are therefore needed to promote full and effective equality in various fields such as education and employment.
2. Recommends that Austria take appropriate account of the conclusions set out in section 1 above, together with the various comments in the Advisory Committee's opinion.
3. Invites the Government of Austria, in accordance with Resolution (97) 10:
a. to continue the dialogue in progress with the Advisory Committee;
b. to keep the Advisory Committee regularly informed of the measures it has taken in response to the conclusions and recommendations set out in section 1 and 2 above.