The Government Office for Slovenians Abroad was very pleased to learn of the decision of the Austrian Federal Government to double the funds for the ethnic communities in the country.
The last increase in supports to the ethnic communities took place in 1995, which means that there has actually been a huge decline in support in the past two and a half decades, taking into account inflation, which had already started to undermine the existence of the minority structures. The doubled support will enable the organisations of national minorities to focus their activities on all key aspects of life defining their identify – learning their language, preserving their culture and developing cultural activities, supporting economic activities so as to retain young people in the indigenous settlement area, and so forth.
At a time when we are commemorating 100 years since the plebiscite in Carinthia, we note with regret that the promises of the Landtag of Carinthia made to Carinthian Slovenians just before the plebiscite have not (yet) been met. Moreover, Article 7 of the Austrian State Treaty from 1955 granting rights to Carinthian and Styrian Slovenians remains unfulfilled. As a consequence, the number of Carinthian Slovenians has fallen drastically in the past 100 years. We therefore take the decision of the current government to double the supports as a step in the right direction and we truly welcome it. In its coalition agreement, the current Austrian government makes concrete promises as regards the ethnic communities, a greater commitment than any government so far. Only through such measures favourable to the Slovenian minority (and indeed to all other minorities in Austria) will assimilation be mitigated and new development prospects opened up allowing all national minorities their preservation and development. We hope and expect that this positive move will be followed by a systemic arrangement of minority rights.