The German Ethnic Model (III)

BOLZANO/VIENNA/BERLIN | | italienoesterreich

BOLZANO/VIENNA/BERLIN (Own report) - Ethnic chauvinist forces in Austria are demanding the practical application of German "ethnic rights" to the German speaking population of northern Italy. According to these forces, the government in Vienna should issue Austrian passports to the approx. 300,000 northern Italians (South Tyroleans), whose ancestors had been Austrian up until the First World War. Germany has a long practice of absorbing the citizens of its East European neighboring countries, but this would be the first time involving a West European neighbor. This demand accompanies talks about the addition of a paragraph to the Austrian Constitution, declaring Vienna the "protective power" of the "South Tyroleans" - a direct infringement on the national sovereignty of the EU member nation, Italy. At the same time demands are gaining momentum in South Tyrol for an ethnic based right of secession, also along the lines of German concepts. Already last spring, the word was going around in Northern Italian Green Party circles that the foundation of a "Free State South Tyrol," along the lines of the Liechtenstein model was being considered. The ethnic chauvinist rightwing is seeking annexation by Austria.

Protective Power

Austria's new "South Tyrol" debate originated with plans to amend the country's constitution to include a protective power clause. This would mean that Austria would officially declare itself the "protective power" of all German language citizens of northern Italy. These plans, with which Vienna would presume a de facto right of intervention in northern Italy, have been in discussion for several years;[1] but a corresponding 2006 resolution, accepted by nearly all parties represented in parliament (SPÖ, ÖVP; BZÖ and FPÖ), has yet to be implemented. The ruling government coalition partner, Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), would now like to see it implemented. The spokesperson for South Tyrolean Affairs of the conservative ÖVP, Hermann Gahr, announced "that a common resolution will be tabled in parliament by December."[2] The protective power claim will not be merely inserted into the preamble of the constitution, but will be expounded upon in its own paragraph. Protests from Rome, according to Gahr, have no impact. The South Tyrolean Affairs spokesperson of the ÖVP declared "this concerns the acknowledgement of Austria's political approach, already in practice for decades."


The debate has grown sharper through a demand by the FPÖ. The party tabled a motion for a resolution in the National Council in Vienna, in which all "former Austrians" in northern Italy, and their descendents be granted Austrian citizenship. "Former Austrians" are former citizens of the Habsburg Empire, to which South Tyrol had belonged until the end of World War I. Nearly all of the German speaking citizens in northern Italy trace their origins back to this group. The FPÖ's motion, calling for placing the approx. 300,000 German speaking North Italians under the protection of Vienna, by issuing them Austrian passports, is under consideration in the Interior Committee of the Austrian National Council. As Werner Neubauer, speaker for South Tyrolean Affairs of the FPÖ, openly declared, this motion is "about convergence."[3] Already in October, the South Tyrolean Freedom, a northern Italian party, calling for South Tyrol's secession from Italy, was in Vienna, according to the party, for "talks on the question of double citizenship" with "the parties represented in the Austrian National Council." According to a regional parliamentarian of that secessionist organization, "a basic approval of dual citizenship for South Tyroleans could be discerned among all of the parties present at the talks."[4]

German Practice

The ethnic chauvinist forces in Vienna and Northern Italy, who support these plans, can invoke the practice in use by Germany since the 1990s. The Federal Republic of Germany issues German speaking citizens of its eastward neighboring countries German papers, transforming, for example 200,000 former Poles into Germans. This German practice, which completely ignores the national sovereignty of its bordering countries, has repeatedly been the source of tensions in eastern and southeastern Europe. Back in the 1990s, Italy offered Italian speaking Slovenians the possibility of obtaining Italian citizenship. In Hungary measures are currently being planned that would affect approx. 500,000 Slovakians and 1.3 million Rumanians.[5] Rumania, on the other hand is toying with the idea of granting about a million Moldavians ("ethnic Rumanians") Rumanian citizenship. ( reported.[6]) Moldavia has a population of approx. 3.3 million.

German Tradition

While claims of protective power and the incorporation of Italian citizens are being discussed in Austria, demands for an ethnic based right of secession are gaining momentum in Northern Italy. In Bolzano, South Tyrol, the November 22 - 23, 1969 referendum leading to the so-called autonomy package will soon be commemorated. This package granted extensive special rights to the German speaking minority in Northern Italy. The German minority subsequently renounced its plans to secede - but only temporarily, as the current development shows. On the occasion of the 40 anniversary celebrations, demands for an ethnic based "right to self-determination" can be heard, granting ethnic minorities the right of decision to secede from the nation. International law does not recognize such a right; but it corresponds to the tradition of German ethnic policy. ( reported.[7]) "Cheers to the package, but we prefer the road to freedom", one could hear in the Union for South Tyrol Party, which is demanding the "right to self-determination," including an option to secede from Italy.[8]

Courage to Change

Last Saturday's meeting of the "South Tyrolean Freedom" can be considered paradigmatic. The "South Tyrolean Freedom" includes the milieu of the former "South Tyrolean Bombers", ethnic chauvinist terrorists, who, in the 1960s and later, were pursuing South Tyrol’s secession from Italy with - occasional deadly - bomb attacks. At the meeting, Hermann Gahr, ÖVP speaker for South Tyrolean Affairs, demanded more "courage for change in South Tyrol". The former Austrian justice minister demanded that Vienna intensify its struggle for the "preservation and development of self determination of the South Tyrolean people separated from Tyrol." A parliamentarian of the "South Tyrolean Freedom" in the state assembly declared that there remains only "10 to 15 years" to "exercise the right to self-determination" of the German speaking population because of the steady influx of "foreigners".[9] The South Tyrolean Freedom has observer status in the "European Free Alliance" that unites organizations from all over Europe seeking secession. In the European Parliament, the "Alliance" cooperates with the German Green Party in a parliamentary caucus. (This map excerpt is taken from the webpage of the "European Free Alliance" presenting a "Tyrol" formed through the unification of the Austrian federal land, Tyrol, with South Tyrol joining a new Greater Germany.)

Liechtenstein Model

These current demands for secession are not limited to ethnic rights. Already last spring, Green Party circles in Northern Italy were discussing the founding of a "Free State South Tyrol", "Liechtenstein Model".[10] The development shows the real purpose behind the "South Tyrolean Autonomy", so heavily praised in Berlin. Whereas Germany is repeatedly using the South Tyrolean autonomy rights as a model for the peaceful settlement of secessionist conflicts while safeguarding the territorial integrity of the countries concerned, the current debate in Austria and Northern Italy show that the secessionist potential has only been suppressed - until there is another opportunity to secede. This is not only disastrous for Italy, but for all those states whose minorities seek advice on autonomy rights and their implementation in Bolzano - particularly in the "European Academy Bozen". Among those who sought advice over the past few years were Iraq [11] and Tibetan separatists [12]. Godfather of the founding of this "European Academy Bozen" was the Foreign Ministry of the Federal Republic of Germany. The academy cooperates with front institutions of Berlin's ethnic chauvinist foreign policy, including the European Center for Minority Issues [13] as well as the Federal Union of European Nationalities [14].

[1] see also Schutzmacht-Klausel
[2] "Schutzmacht für Südtirol kommt in die Verfassung"; Tiroler Tageszeitung 15.11.2009
[3] Diplomatische Spannungen wegen Südtirol-Engagement; Tiroler Tageszeitung 23.11.2009
[4] JA zur doppelten Staatsbürgerschaft: In Wien bereits Gespräche mit allen Parteien geführt; 25.11.2009
[5] see also The German Ethnic Model (I)
[6] see also Das deutsche Blutsmodell (II)
[7] see also Self Determination, Logik der Dekomposition and Moral Basis
[8] "Paket in Ehren, aber besser der Freiheit entgegen"; Südtirol Online 23.11.2009
[9] "Für Selbstbestimmungsrecht bleiben uns noch 10 bis 15 Jahre"; Südtirol Online 22.11.2009
[10] "Eine überaus reizvolle Idee"; ff - Das Südtiroler Wochenmagazin 12/2009
[11] see also Multi-Partisan Directorate
[12] see also Strategies of Attrition (III) and À la Südtirol
[13] see also Hintergrundbericht: Das Europäische Zentrum für Minderheitenfragen
[14] see also Freund und Kollege, Schwelende Konflikte, Cultivating Relationships and Hintergrundbericht: Die Föderalistische Union Europäischer Volksgruppen