June 8, 2011
Prof. Francesc Serra i Massansalvador
MINORITY POLICIES IN DIFFERENT EUROPEAN STATES: THE CASE OF SPAIN AND TURKEY
“Very often, minority policies are the ultimate test for modern states to show their commitment to democracy. Traditionally, in Europe, the acceptation of minorities of different kinds in the State has been a major challenge to adapt the State to a genuine rule of law. In recent years, moreover, we have seen how the fundamental liberties of citizens are questioned through an anger response of the State to the claims of minorities. Different states have responded to these claims according to their own tradition, to the pressures of their societies and to the evolution of their policies; in any case, the issue has opened a deep and intense debate about the limits of democracy in its relations with minority populations.
Spain and Turkey share a modern history in which the demands of their ethnic and cultural groups have threatened their territorial and social cohesion. But above all those demands have questioned the state's ability to maintain a genuine rule of law guaranteeing the rights of minorities. Both states have strong international commitments, especially with the Council of Europe and the OSCE, and each of them has tried to solve this issue according to the general concepts accepted by the different European institutions. The evolution of democratic rights in both countries demands a strong commitment to these rights, but that often clashes with the self-conception and the national principles of most of the societies, as well as the identity roots of the nation-state. Territorial autonomy, the expansion of cultural rights and the acceptance of the multiculturalism of the state appear to be the best accepted solutions, but they are not the only, and, apparently, none of them seems to be the final solution for an issue so closely related to fundamental human rights.”