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Minority Language Policy in Romania: A Qualitative Comparative Analysis of Implementation and its Conditions

Lilla Balazs
University of Zurich
Lilla Balazs
University of Zurich
Open Panel

Abstract

The largely positive developments in minority rights protection in Central and Eastern Europe have traditionally been linked to European Union (EU) conditionality. At the same time, research has so far mainly focused on the adoption of legislation in the pre-accession period, leaving the post-legislative phase of adopted legislation to be systematically addressed. This is all the more pertinent, as conditionality has ceased with accession, leaving ample room for state discretion regarding the implementation, non-implementation or even reversal of minority protection provisions. As a contribution to filling this research gap, the present paper proposes to examine the implementation of minority language rights, as rights that fundamentally affect minority identity in general. Romania has been chosen as a typical case for both strong EU conditionality and high salience of the minority rights issue. As such, the country presents a most likely case for backsliding in implementation, especially in the post-EU accession period. In this context, the paper proposes to conduct a Qualitative Comparative Analysis of the regional, county-level implementation of various sub-issue areas pertaining to linguistic rights, based on detailed case studies of the six Romanian counties that fall under the 20% minority population threshold requirement, postulated by minority language use legislation in general. Finally, aiming at conducting a multi-level analysis that goes beyond the regional level, the paper also addresses conditions of implementation on the state level, examining both national and international conditions for implementation of minority language policy in Romania.