Testo d'approfondimento parte della "Guida Minoranze"

19/07/2002 -  Anonymous User


Slovenia has been a functioning democracy since its independence in 1991, with a strong economy and a good record in human rights. According to the 1991 census, minorities make up about 12% of a population of two million. One can count up to 23 groups, the most important being the Croats (50.000), Serbs (48.000), Muslims (27.000), Hungarians (8.500) and Italians (3.000).
The legal status of these minorities is radically different. Three of these groups - the Italians, Hungarians and Romas - are considered to be "autochthonous" communities and are singled out in the Constitution for special treatment. The Romany Community is granted a special status by Article 65 of the Constitution. The Italian and Hungarian communities are recognised as national minorities by Article 64 of the Constitution, and are therein recognised to be collectively holders of rights. These constitutional rights include the use of national symbols, mothertongue education, mass media and publishing, contacts with nations of origin, representation and co-decision making . Overall, the level of protection of minority rights with regard to all these communities is extremely high, in particular with respect to the Italian and Hungarian communities.
Smaller "autochthonous" communities (such as Germans and Jews) and "new minorities" ("immigrants" from the former Yugoslav Republics, essentially ethnic Serbs, Croats, Kosovar Albanians and Romas from Kosovo and Albania) on the other hand are not recognised as minorities. Their members have the right to preserve their identity, to foster their culture and use their own language, as these rights are guaranteed to everyone under Article 61 of the Constitution. But they have lost various rights (in education, etc.) that they previously held under the Yugoslav Federation.
The gravest problem faced by some members of these "new" minorities has been that of citizenship. About 130.000 non-Slovenes (former Yugoslav) residents were left without Slovenian citizenship in 1991. Some 90.000 have left Slovenia since then, but, according to the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, up to 40.000 have had to live virtually outside law since independence. Being non-citizens, they have no right to education, social and health insurance, employment, etc. The problem is particularly acute among the Romas. Several thousands have been offered residence since 1999, but the problem remains unsolved for many others.


The Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia guarantees to both the Italian and the Hungarian community direct representation and participation in decision-making on public matters at both local and national level.
The LAW ON SELF-GOVERNING NATIONAL COMMUNITIES (1994) provides that both national minorities shall establish self-governing national communities in the areas where they authochthonously live. These Self-Governing National Communities are entities of public law and thus represent a special form of minority autonomy. They constitute the political representation of the national minorities and the interlocutor of the State and local communities when dealing with minority issues. Depending on the subject matter, they have a right of suggestion, are to be consulted or even have to consent to the proposed measures. They can also perform tasks within the competence of the State, and establish organisations and public institutions. Laws on education, culture and the right to information guarantee integration of the members of the Italian and Hungarian national communities in the board of public institutions in active in these fields.
At the local level, the LAW ON LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT provides that, in the ethnically mixed areas, national communities are organised into municipal self-governing national communities, managed by the community council, which is elected by the members of the national community in that area by direct elections. They are guaranteed the right to have at least one representative on the municipal council. Those councillors enjoy the same rights as all others. When, however, the protection of special rights for the national communities is concerned, a decision cannot be taken without their consent. In these cases, these councillors are only to be the representative of their national community, and thus have to obtain the consent of the community council. To some extent, similar provisions are in force in the areas with an autochthonous Romani community.
The same structure is to be found at the national level. The "Coastal Italian Self-Governing National Community" and the "Hungarian National Self-Governing Community of Pomurje" coordinate the attitude of their ethnic community towards all issues concerning their status and act as partners in deliberations with State bodies. The two national communities have the right to have one deputy each in the national assembly. Those deputies have the same status as all other deputies but also have the right to exercise their veto on those acts and regulations of the National Assembly which refer solely to the special rights of the national minorities.
The Slovenian Constitutional Court has held that the special "dual voting right" of persons belonging to national communities requires that the special voting register of self-governing national communities be drawn not merely on the basis of a subjective choice, but also on the basis of statutory criteria.


In ethnically mixed areas, the Italian and Hungarian languages are equal to the Slovene language. In the functioning of the judicial and state authorities and of the administration, the use of the language of the national minority is guaranteed throughout the procedure provided that one of the parties uses that language. All acts and procedures then have to be either in the minority language or bilingual. Public and identification documents (personal identity cards, passports) also have to be bilingual. Street names and topographical signs are also bilingual.
The LAW ON PERSONAL NAMES stipulates that the personal name of a member of the Italian or Hungarian minority shall be recorded in the original form, unless otherwise decided by members of these national minorities themselves.


In ethnically mixed areas, members of national communities are guaranteed education in their mother tongue from pre-school education to completed secondary education. Two models of education are applied in practice. In the areas in which the Italian national community lives, education is provided in separate schools , which have either Slovene or Italian as language of instruction and also teach the other language. In areas in which the Hungarian community lives, bilingual education has been introduced for all children living in that area, classes being held in parallel in the Slovene and Hungarian languages. To a limited extent, schooling is also provided in the Romany language.
The LAW ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF SPECIAL RIGHTS FOR MEMBERS OF THE ITALIAN AND HUNGARIAN NATIONAL MINORITIES IN THE FIELD OF EDUCATION also provides that the curricula for members of the Italian and Hungarian communities must consider the special achievements of their nation (Article 8) and that educational plans shall be drawn in cooperation with educational institutions of the nations of origin of these communities (Article 15).
The most important problem for all educational institutions is to provide teachers with the appropriate training mastering the minority language. There is a lack of staff that is only partly covered by hiring foreign nationals (i.e., Italian, Hungarian or Croatian nationals).


The press is now a vigorous institution and enjoys full journalistic freedom.
The LAW ON MASS MEDIA (1994) stipulates that the Republic of Slovenia supports the development of mass media intended to inform the Italian and Hungarian national communities. Through the Office for Nationalities, Slovenia thus co-finances the publishing activity, radio and TV programmes for the Romas and for both national minorities. THE LAW ON RADIO TELEVISION SLOVENIA also provides that the Italian and Hungarian communities appoint one member each to the Council of RTV Slovenia.
Radio and Television programmes in the Italian and Hungarian languages are part of the national programme broadcast by the national radio and television. There is an Italian-language television channel as well as several newspaper available to the ethnic Italian minority on the Adriatic coast. Hungarian radio programming is common in the Northeast. The Romany community publishes a magazine. Bosnian refugees and the Albanian community have newsletters in their own languages.

Further Information:

-State Report submitted by the Republic of Slovenia concerning the implementation of the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities, November 2000, State Report
-US Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2000,
Country Report
-International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights Annual Report on Slovenia, 2000,
Report 2000