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Is self-identification of individuals/groups a criterion for recognition and respect of minority or ethnic cultural linguistic religious groups' rights by the state/government?

Key Area:
Public Life, Culture, Sport & Media
Discrimination, Equality
20/01/2012 - 19:44
Short Answer

Self-identification is not a sufficient criterion for recognition of status of national/ethnic minority in Slovenia (for minority communities without such status).

On the other hand, in the case of the Italian and the Hungarian national minority a self-identification of members of these minority communities is a condition for exercizing double voting rights.


Qualitative Info

In Slovenia, it is considered that formal status of national/ethnic minority is recognised to those minorities to whom the Consititution of the Republic of Slovenia grant such status explicitly defining the scope of minority protection (as in the case of Italian and Hungarian national minorities) or obliging the state to define the scope of minority protection in the legislation (as in the case of Roma).

The legislation, the policy measures and the mandate given to the Governmental Office for National Minorities follow that order established by the Constitution. Therefore, despite the fact that huge number of members of other nations of former Yugoslavia  (Albanians from Kosovo, Bosniaks, Croats, Macedonians, Montenegrins and Serbs) hold Slovenian citizenship and in the circumstances after the break of Yugoslavia de facto form national minorities in Slovenia, such status is not yet legally recognised to them (neither in the Consitituition nor in the sector-specific regulation).   These national minorities have been self-identified and self-organised in dozens of minority associations and in joint umbrella organisation, making joint efforts to gain formal status of minorities. In 2003 for the first time they submitted a formal request to the Parliament of Slovenia for recognition of status of national minorities, but it has been denied to them. They have been considered "immigrants" and certain financial support was provided to their associations for cultural activities by the Ministry of Culture. However, in 2011, the Parliament adopted a resolution providing obligations of the state to form a joint body with these national minorities and find ways to intensify support for protection of their cultural identity. It has been considered a step of soft recognition without amending the Consitution (it seems that change of the Constitution in the sense of formal and full recongition of minority status to these minorities have no support of most of political parties in Slovenia). Despite that recent progress made in relations between the state and the organisations of national minorities from former Yugoslavia, it remains uncertain if their status and rights will be regulated in more details in near future, stipulating concrete measures to address their needs and demands for minority protection.

In their monitoring reports, various international organisations have been constantly criticizing the Government of Slovenia for being slow in addressing the situation of minorities from former Yugoslavia, and accordingly include them on equal basis in the system of minority protection instead of sustaining a hierarchical model of minority protection (with Hungarian and Italian minorites with full scope of minority protection, a Roma minority with certain level of protection, and minorities from former Yugoslavia with rudimental protection.)

On the other hand, a request for self-identification of individuals in Slovenia for members of a national minority as a condition for exercizing certain minority right is applied in the case of respect of double voting rights for the members of the Italian and the Hungarian community in Slovenia.

It means that members of these two national minorities to which the Constitution and the legislation provide respect for number of minority rights have to demonstrate self-identification with the minority if want to be registered in the special electoral  register. The registration enable them to exercize double voting rights on local (in the municipalities which are considered those  inhabited by the minority community) and on national level (to elect a member of the parliament which represent the national minority).


Second opinion on Slovenia, Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for Protection of National Minorites, Council of Europe, 2005, Date of access: 20.1.2012.

Third opinion on Slovenia, Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for Protection of National Minorities, Council of Europe, 2011, Date of access: 20.1.2012.

Human Rights Report on Slovenia, 2010, US Department of State, Date of access. 20.1.2012.

ECRI Third Report on Slovenia, 2007, Date of access: 20.1.2012.

Slovenia and European Standards for the Protection of National Minorities, 2002, Information and Documentation Centre on the Council of Europe,  Institute for Ethnic Studies, Austrian Institute of East and Southeast European Studies, Ljubljana, Date of access: 25.1.2012.

Groups affected/interested Ethnic minorities, National minorities
Type (R/D) Anti-migrant/xenophobia, Nationalism
Key socio-economic / Institutional Areas Integration - social cohesion
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