Language issue raised as Carinthian assembly adopts report on minority

Klagenfurt, 27 July - The assembly of the Austrian state of Carinthia discussed and adopted on Thursday a report on the situation of the Slovenian minority. Minority member Franc Jožef Smrtnik of the Team Carinthia party said at the session that progress could be seen with regard to bilingual signs, while noting shortcomings in the use of Slovenian in the courts.

The sixth report on the situation of the Slovenian minority in Carinthia focuses on the implementation of the constitutional and legal commitments in relation to the matters that fall within the jurisdiction of the federal state.

The Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) was the only deputy group to vote against the report, the Austrian public broadcaster ORF announced today on the website of the ORF programme in Slovenian.

The college of the state government discussed the report on 5 June, and a week ago by the sub-committee for constitutional and minority issues of the state assembly.

Representatives of the Slovenian minority participated in the discussion and provided their assessments on the initiative of Team Carinthia and its deputy Franc Jožef Smrtnik, who also gave his comments at today's session in Klagenfurt.

He noted that many things had changed since the adoption of the relevant memorandum and compromise on bilingual signs, assessing that the "atmosphere has improved, there is no more political tension ... and conflicts have calmed down."

Smrtnik expects more courage from the bilingual municipalities in terms of erecting additional bilingual town limit signs, which the memorandum makes possible.

He meanwhile praised the municipalities that have put up additional bilingual signs, and expressed the hope that others will follow this example, ORF reported.

Smrtnik proposed that signs on the border crossings with Slovenia be made bilingual as a sign of respect, and as a welcome for Slovenians in Austria and beyond the border. The same thing could be done at the border crossings with Italy, he added.

When it comes to the use of Slovenian in the courts, Smrtnik found many shortcomings and called for the bilingual local courts in Bleiburg, Eisenkappel and Ferlach to be preserved.

He said his wish was that all Carinthian Slovenians could use Slovenian in their local environments and in the courts, calling for the use of Slovenian in public offices to be extended to other districts as well.

Smrtnik would like to see, as a sign of respect and more than just a positive gesture, that Slovenian could be spoken in the state assembly, or even in the agricultural chamber, although German is the official language, ORF added.

© STA, 2023