Zorčič says Slovenia supports minority’s efforts to enjoy full rights in Austria

Klagenfurt – Parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič attended a conference on development of ethnic minority rights in Austria’s Klagenfurt on Thursday, stressing that Slovenia supports efforts by the Slovenian minority to have its minority rights addressed systemically and for the long run, the Slovenian National Assembly said.

“It is Slovenia’s great ambition for the position of the autochtonous Slovenian national community in neighbouring countries to improve and the country advocates consistent respect of international legislation governing the protection and implementation of their rights,” he said as he addressed the event organised by Slovenian publisher Mohorjeva Družba.

The Slovenian speaker also expressed satisfaction with the interest in Slovenian language classes growing in the Austrian federal state of Carinthia, arguing language is a fundamental element of expression and intensification of national identity.

Zorčič is aware of the need to address some issues, such as a drop in language competences of children learning Slovenian or their different levels of proficiency, which calls for overhauling the organisational approach to raise the quality of bilingual education.

The conference was also attended by MP Nikolaus Berlakovich on behalf of Austrian Speaker Wolfgang Sobotka, by Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitsch, Carinthia Governor Peter Kaiser, Klagenfurt Mayor Christian Schneider, and Austrian MP Olga Voglauer, a member of the Slovenian minority.

Zorčič also met youths to discuss with them the role, reputation and value of the minority language, encouraging them to preserve the interest in their mother tongue because bilinguality is an asset.

He gave the Italian and Hungarian ethnic minorities in Slovenia as an example of good practice of full bilinguality and the volume of rights they enjoy, including representation in parliament. Zorčič urged transferring such high standards to other EU member states.

The conference Development of Rights of National Communities, running until Saturday, focuses on regional, national, European and international aspects of minority protection.