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Territorializing Minorities Policies in Central-Eastern Europe

April 2013 | #34

by: Giuseppe Motta
pp: 49
ISSN: 2038-632X

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The contribution starts from a historical analysis of the first postwar period; then, the success of the self-determination principle and its application in Central-Eastern Europe brought to the creation and consolidation of old and new National States (Greece, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia). These States, anyway, were often as multinational as the old Empires they had replaced. Their birth, moreover, was troubled by the resistance of the vanquished powers (who were ceding important parts of their territories) and of many minorities who did not belong to the national projects which lay behind these States. The fear of the spread of Russia socialism, further, represented another problem to take into consideration in order to pacify Central-Eastern Europe. Acknowledging the problems created by the hostility between Nations and Minorities and between the different interpretation both gave of the self-determination principle, international diplomacy arranged special regulations to grant to the minorities precise guarantees. In1919 and during the following years, the States were consequently called to commit themselves to accept some international obligations concerning the protection of minorities: the special treaties signed by Czechoslovakia,Poland, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, Romania and Greece; the clauses inserted in the general peace treaties, some unilateral declarations asked to the candidates to join the League of Nations, and other multilateral or bilateral agreements. This whole of measures was put under the control and supervision of the newborn League of Nations, which provided a special procedure in the field of minority rights. Despite these precise obligations, many States clearly protested against this imposition considering it an unjust interference in their own internal affairs. The effective protection of minorities, as a matterof fact, soon became a matter of concern for the international institutions and for the relationships among the Central-Eastern European States. The Minority rights proved to be a difficult question for interwar Europe and a great hurdle for the different projects all the States aimed to develop: the creation of a State in symbiosis with its respective nation as the historical result of the war and the previous fights against the Empires. The shape assumed by interwar States and by their policies, consequently, tended to forget the obligations concerning minorities and were often addressed towards an exclusivist nationalism.The protection of minorities, therefore, became an important feature in the collective security system and deeply conditioned European scenario contributing to lead the order of Versailles towards its tragic end.



minorities, nationalism, league of nations, minority treaties

Table of contents

1. TheHistorical Context
2. The Minority Treaties
3. The National States
4. Conclusions

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