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CIFEM - Carinthian Institute for Ethnic Minorities
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Bozen, 22.11.2000
The CIFEM is an association for research in minority issues founded by Dr. Karl Anderwald (second-ranking official of the Carinthian government) and Albert F. Reiterer (minority expert originating from Carinthia and residing in Vienna).

In Spring 1998, then-time Carinthian governor Zernatto was interested in giving support to such a research and teaching institute by making available an office with secretariat in Ossiach. In 2000, on February 22, the three-party Carinthian government and the Carinthian governor decided unanimously to provide for such support. This decision was repeated and concretized on July 27, 2000. On August 9, 2000, the agreement between the country and the CIFEM was signed, and the institute came into legal existence.

For the purposes of its activities CIFEM was building up

(1) an advisory board in administrative matters whose chairman will be Mr. Erhard Busek (former Vice-Chancellor of Austria); and

(2) a scientific board to which we did invite exclusively well-known persons active since many years in the field of research in ethnic relations from outside Austria. Among them there are Rudolf M. Rizman (Ljubljana), Tom Priestly (Edmonton, Canada), Helen Krag (Copenhague), Silvo Devetak (Maribor), Peter Nelde (Brussels), Gerhard Seewann (Munich), Bohdan Gruchman (Poland). They are expected to give us expertise in our middle and long-run planning.

Our programme is to be an Institute for research mainly in European minorities’ problems and furthermore for problems of minorities in general.

1) We will start our work with a rather ambitious programme called "Minority policies and politics in Europe".

CIFEM is located in Carinthia not by chance: Since the emergence of Austria as an independent national state in 1918 there have been some thorny minorities’ problems in Austria, although the number of persons involved was always not really significant. Among those problems the best known is that of the Slovenes in Carinthia. While their position in contemporary Austria is considered rather favorable by most experts, there are, of course, some conflicts and some divergent views. Looking to approaches for minority policies and conflict management elsewhere would also be of some practical use for Austria and the province (country) of Carinthia. On the other hand, there may be models and skills coming from Austria usefull for other countries in Europe. This applies to Western Europe as well as to the Eastern part of the continent. We must not forget that the EU in the Copenhague criteria did make human rights in general and a satisfying treatment of minorities in particular one of the entry conditions for Eastern European aspirants for membership.

For a carefull examination there must be also a significant activity in other regards, especially concerning social conflicts and conflict management. Such fields of concern will be:

2) Ethnical Parties as Means for Political Participation
Participation is one of the great problems in ethnic relations. Political parties are the instruments for participation and decision making par excellence. How will the minority status combine with the ambitions of parties for power sharing?

3) Types of Ethnic Relations
While indigenous peoples in Europe are vanishing rapidly and converting into some brand of ethno-national minorities, there are important differences between minorities emerging from processes of modernization, from political events like newly drawn state borders, or from traditional ethnic groups relying on self-sufficiency and subsistence. Their problems will be different and so will be the policies to apply.

4) Ethnic Conflict, the Dynamics of Conflicts and Conflict Manegement

While ethnic relations by no means are necessary conflictual - indeed, there has been put the questions how the great majority of ethnic relations are peaceful and constructive - there are some protracted conflicts which seem to be almost intractable since decades. Thus, the real problem is not how they did emerge, however, but why they are so difficult to settle. Are there successful models for ethnic conflict management, and can such models be transfered to other social and political circumstances?

5) New Minorities in Modern Societies: Migration and Its Consequences

Since the 60ies, North and West Europe, and since the 80ies the rest of the continent have turned from areas of emigration to such of in-migration. While people at the beginning of this development were considered as work force only, a part of them settled and became indigenous in their host countries. This process was neglected for a long time in the involved countries. As an ugly surprise in different countries (the Netherlands, United Kingdom, France; recently Spain and Federal Republic Germany, too) there was an outburst of violent conflicts, both from the resident majority and parts )mostly youth) of the new minorities. Thus, we have to ask: What are the problems of these minorities, in contrast to the socalled “autochthonous” traditional minorities?

The president of the association is DDr. Karl Anderwald (Klagenfurt/Spittall a.D.); for the scientific management of the institute cares Albert F. Reiterer.

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