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Speaker advocates minority rights during visit to Klagenfurt

Klagenfurt, 23 June - Parliamentary Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič visited Klagenfurt on Thursday to mark 30 years since Slovenia opened its general consulate in the city. She underlined the importance of Article 7 of the Austrian State Treaty, which guarantees the rights of the Slovenian minority.

Addressing the ceremony, she said that "suitably regulated and implemented minority safeguards were a key standard of democracy in modern societies, and they must be continually developed and improved".

Klakočar Zupančič, who also met with the representatives of the minority, expressed confidence that both Austria and Slovenia are capable of tackling this challenge.

She believes that to address the issues faced by the Slovenian minority in the provinces of Styria and Carinthia formal and informal communication between the Austrian parliament and provincial authorities and Slovenian parliament will be key.

This comes after Austria enacted obligatory preschool education in preschools that are not bilingual, which Klakočar Zupančič labelled as a reason for concern.

Another burning issue are bilingual courts, which are virtually non-existent, or else the area they cover is too small. She believes the issue will have to be raised with Austrian provincial and state bodies, she said.

The speaker believes that Slovenia's National Assembly needs to "nurture parliamentary diplomacy" and promote the respect for Article 7 of the Austrian State Treaty, which guarantees the rights of the Slovenian minority in Austria.

She believes that Slovenian National Assembly should also promote equal position of the Slovenian language in schools so that Slovenian would no longer be only an elective course but a part of the regular curriculum in schools in areas where the minority lives.

The speaker told the STA that she understood the problems of the minority in Carinthia and that she was happy to see the progress made in the recent years by the community in Styria, whose number had increased thanks to the association Paul's House.

She believes it is evident that both communities nurture their national identity and want to also give to their children.

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© STA, 2022