European Integration, Regional Change and Ethnic Minority Mobilisation: An Introduction

By Anagnostou, Dia; Triandafyllidou, Anna | Romanian Journal of Political Science, Spring 2007 | Go to article overview

European Integration, Regional Change and Ethnic Minority Mobilisation: An Introduction


Anagnostou, Dia, Triandafyllidou, Anna, Romanian Journal of Political Science


Abstract:

The aim of this introductory chapter is to provide an overview of the theoretical framework informing the case studies presented in this issue. In the context of nation and state building, it describes and analyzes the presence of minorities in Europe, their politicisation at the regional-local level in post war Europe, as well as the role played by EU regional economic processes and human rights policies since the early 1990s. European integration extends to minority-inhabited areas through processes of regional development change, implementation of structural funds, cross border co-operation, and in CESE pre-accession funds. It furthermore affects minorities through human rights norms and minority protection conditions, a regime that has developed over the past fifteen years in conjunction with the Council of Europe (CoE). Our case studies explore how changing opportunities and constraints in the context of EU regional economic processes and human rights norms, alter patterns of local political participation and economic activity of local ethnic minorities and national majorities, their relations with national and ethnic political parties and state administration, as well as minority political mobilisation and cultural demands vis-a-vis the central state. They also examine their influence on how local minorities and majorities view their identification with a national or ethnic community, their rights and obligations as citizens of a state, as well as how they conceptualise 'Europe.'

Keywords: ethnic politics, minorities, European integration, regions, nationalism

Introduction

This special issue examines the effects of European integration on territorially concentrated minorities inhabiting border areas and their relations with national majorities and the state in EU member states and accession countries. We are centrally interested in regions inhabited by large historical minority populations. The term 'historical minority' is used here to distinguish between the minority populations that were part of a national or multinational state since its creation, from the minority groups that are the outcome of international migration flows; the research presented in the contributions to this issue focuses only in the former type of minorities. The contributions cover six cases of minority inhabited regions in Southeast Europe, four EU member states (Greece, Italy, Slovakia and Slovenia) and two accession countries (Bulgaria and Romania).

European integration processes extend to minority-inhabited areas through regional development policies such as structural funds, cross border co-operation, and pre-accession funds to prepare CESE states to implement cohesion policy. They furthermore affect minorities through human rights norms and minority protection conditions, a regime that has developed over the past fifteen years in conjunction with the Council of Europe (CoE). Our case studies explore how changing opportunities and constraints induced by EU regional economic and human rights policies, alter patterns of local political participation and economic activity of local ethnic minorities and national majorities, their relations with national and ethnic political parties and state administration, as well as minority political mobilisation and cultural demands vis-a-vis the central state. We also examine their influence on how local minorities and majorities view their identification with a national or ethnic community, their rights and obligations as citizens of a state, as well as how they conceptualise 'Europe.'

The aim of this introduction is to provide an overview of the empirical and theoretical framework informing the case studies presented in this issue. In the sections that follow we outline the general process of nation state building and minority formation in Europe, the politicisation of regional minorities in post war Europe, and the role played in this context by EU regional economic and human rights policies. …

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