The forgotten issue? Eastward enlargement and national minorities

Abstract

1 European Union (EU) enlargement in Eastern Europe faces many challenges. Among them are the unresolved issue of national and ethnic minorities within the states that are slated to join EU institutions in the near future. When we think about issues of minorities in the European context, we imagine it to be a very important question for all member states, as well as for those in relation with the candidate countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). We constantly hear from all quarters how important the protection of national minority rights and human rights is for the EU, but if we examine these issues carefully, we find that that is only true on the surface level of European policies. The whole question, in fact, does not go further than declarations of intent, in many cases forced by the international context. In the European case, this is partly due to the wars that devastated the Former Yugoslavia, which also have on the surface been seen as just " ethnic wars " 2. This situation is compounded by the fact that the EU does not have a unified internal policy on national minorities. The specific features of the CEE region, with its multiethnic and multinational societies, make this process of political change much more complicated than the one that has been undertaken in Southern Europe. It should be pointed out, however, that the efforts made by the CEE states to establish pluralist and liberal democracies in order to speed up their integration into the Council of Europe, the EU and NATO, have been, in most of the cases, successful. Though the enlargement process is already underway, a closer look reveals that accession in the first round will be reserved for those countries with the fewest problems of national minorities within their borders, countries which are also the most ethnically homogeneous and the most economically developed.

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Ferrero2003TheFI, title={The forgotten issue? Eastward enlargement and national minorities}, author={Ruth Ferrero}, year={2003} }