CEES / CRCEES academics organise Council of Europe Seminar

On 18-19 May 2007 academics from the Department of Central and East European Studies co-organised and attended one of the regular 'Universities for Democracy' (UniDem) seminars of the Council of Europe's Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission).

Held in Zagreb, the Seminar was organised under the Patronage of the President of the Republic of Croatia, in cooperation with the Venice Commission, the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia and the Universities of Zagreb and Glasgow.

Its overarching theme was the 'Participation of Minorities in Public Life'. The Glasgow contribution formed part of the non-academic user dissemination agenda of the AHRC-sponsored project 'Ending Nationalism? The Question for Cultural Autonomy in inter-war and contemporary Europe', which is jointly convened by Dr David Smith and Professor John Hiden at the Baltic Research Unit of the Department of Central and East European Studies.

Smith and Hiden were accompanied to the seminar by CEES colleagues Dr Eamonn Butler and Ms Laura Cashman (2007-08 Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Russian, Central and East European Studies).

GU speakers focused upon the concept of non-territorial cultural autonomy, a model of national minority rights that was successfully pioneered in the inter-war Baltic States and which has assumed a growing relevance in post-Cold War Eastern Europe, forming the basis for current minority legislation in Estonia, Hungary, the Russian Federation, Croatia and Ukraine.

Smith, Hiden, Butler and Cashman assessed whether the current revival of cultural autonomy had drawn fully on experiences from the inter-war period, before assessing some of the problems and prospects for improving the current work of cultural autonomy bodies in the region. They then joined conference participants in a general discussion on whether cultural autonomy has a viable future in terms of promoting participation of national minorities in political decision making.

First published: 21 May 2007