Austrian plebiscite donation law released in Slovenian

Vienna – A law providing an EUR 4 million donation to the Austrian province of Carinthia as promised by the federal government on the centenary of the Carinthian plebiscite last year was also published in the Slovenian language on Monday in what is the first such instance in Austria’s second republic. Slovenia has welcomed the step.

The Slovenian version of the law was released on the website of the Federal Chancellery of Austria and in the Austrian legal information system RIS.

According to the document, the Austrian government is to allocate EUR 4 million by 2024 in support of the Slovenian-speaking population in the province and projects aimed at “harmonious coexistence as well as cultural diversity and economic and infrastructural development in the municipalities”.

Thirty-five municipalities in the province in the plebiscite area are eligible for EUR 2 million for 2020, the bulk of which, EUR 800,000, is earmarked for bi- or multi-lingual pre-school education and nursery care institutions.

In addition, EUR 350,000 is allocated for the media, cultural and publishing projects of the Slovenian-speaking population, EUR 120,000 for organisations furthering mutual understanding and reconciliation, and EUR 50,000 for organisations supporting economic projects and cross-border cooperation.

The law also allocates EUR 30,000 for organisations in Slovenia dedicated to the culture of the German-speaking community in Slovenia and advocacy of their goals.

Applications for the funds need to be submitted by 31 March with the decision on the distribution of the money to be taken by a body comprising representatives of the Federal Chancellery, and the ministries of culture, education, EU and international affairs and finance.

The Austrian press agency APA quoted Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler as saying that the release of the plebiscite donation law in Slovenian was “an important signal to the Carinthian Slovenians, whose identity is to get a boost from the law and the subsidies linked to it”.

Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitsch welcomed the step, describing it “as a historic day for Slovenians in Austria” and another step towards concrete actions to implement the minority’s rights following Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen’s apology to Carinthian Slovenians for the injustices and delays in the implementation of their constitutional rights, reads a press release issued by her office.

The release is Austria’s first legal document that has been also published in a language of one of the country’s minorities, the office notes, calling for a full implementation of all the rights that are granted to Carinthian Slovenians under Article 7 of the Austrian State Treaty and other international and Austrian legislation.

Held on 10 October 1920 in line with the decisions at the Paris Peace Conference, the Carinthian plebiscite determined the border between Austria and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. As a result, part of ethnic Slovenians ended up on the Austrian side of the border.

Apart from the EUR 4 million donation, the Austrian government also pledged during last year’s centenary ceremonies to double its financial support for the six autochthonous minorities in the country, including the Slovenian community, also amounting to EUR 4 million.

This was the first time in 25 years that funding of the Slovenian minority increased.

The increase in funding for minorities is said to be mainly owning to Van der Bellen, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Vice Chancellor Kogler and Olga Voglauer, the ethnic Slovenian who serves an an MP for the Greens.