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Ovidiu Oltean

The 2014 presidential elections in Romania and the victory of the former mayor of Sibiu, Klaus Iohannis, nurtured many expectations and high hopes. His election marks a rupture with the old political elite and was expected to bring a more western and balanced approach in the head institution of the state. But after almost a year and a half from the start of his presidential term his performance looks rather ambiguous and inconsistent. The president’s selective use of presidential power and his discrete communication style have often put him in a hesitant and defensive position. In this context it is highly unlikely that Klaus Iohannis will pursue important changes and improvements during his term in the domain of minority politics, or extend ethnic minorities collective rights and provisions. Even though Klaus Iohannis belongs to Romania’s ethnic German minority, his presidential agenda makes few references to the empowerment of ethnic minorities. His ‘small steps’ approach might bring surprising results, but so far the first one year and a half of the presidential term has been marked by a rather unconvincing performance.

Editors European Yearbook of Minority Issues Online

Metka Kuhar

Bill Bowring

This report analyses the dramatic turn in the policy of the Russian Federation towards its minorities in 2015. In March 2014, the Kremlin created a new state agency, the Federal Agency for Affairs of Nationalities. This new Agency is headed by an FSB Colonel with combat experience in the North Caucasus, and no previous experience of work with minorities. There are three main manifestations of the new turn. First, there is an emphasis on protection of national security as the central aim of Russian nationalities policy, together with the strengthening of the state sovereignty and integrity of Russia. Second, there is the promotion of the Russian language, which is now seen to be in some ways under threat. And third, documents and speeches are replete with references to the ‘Rossiiskaya natsiya’ [‘Russian nation’], not to be confused with the ‘Russkiy narod’ [‘Russian people’]. This turn has been instituted against the background of a systematic ‘conservative turn’ by the Kremlin, with increasing obstacles placed in the way of all civil society organizations through the 2012 Foreign Agents Law, and the May 2015 Law on Undesirable Organizations. The ‘securitization’ of minorities policy in Russia and the appointment of FSB Colonel Barinov to lead the new direction of minorities policy in Russia will, as he has frankly stated, signify that preservation and promotion of cultural and in particular linguistic rights will be seen as threats to Russia’s continued existence.

Sarah Stephan

This chapter shall focus broadly on the most relevant international developments with a thematic focus on participation, citizenship and transfrontier exchanges in 2015, covering the activities of those international bodies seized to promote relevant international standards and to monitor progress under the auspices the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe and the European Union respectively. The temporal scope of this chapter includes activities that either took place in or were first documented in 2015. The chapter aims to capture key developments and trends.

Editors European Yearbook of Minority Issues Online

Marina Andeva

This article addresses minority politics and rights protection in the Republic of Macedonia, through scrutiny of key developments and events during 2015. The main events relate to the existing political situation in the country, minority party politics and dynamics, and the implementation process of the Ohrid Framework Agreement (OFA). Although it has been more than a decade since the OFA, the Macedonian system is still fragile and subject to further modifications; experts often discuss the need for its ‘revision’ or ‘review’. The major focus of this article is put specifically on the OFA and the discussions on its review.

Daniel Cetrà and Malcolm Harvey

Scotland and Catalonia have long been seen as comparative cases: distinctive minority national identities with autonomist movements that have seen a measure of electoral or constitutional success. In 2014, both cases reached a critical juncture, with an official referendum in Scotland and a non-binding ‘participation process’ in Catalonia. Those events have been studied in detail elsewhere, but the focus of this article is on the aftermath – specifically, the political and constitutional developments in each case in the 12 months following their respective votes. In particular, we look at the plethora of actors involved in each case, the evolution of their attitudes and strategies and conclude that, irrespective of recent developments, the constitutional question will remain on the agenda in both Scotland and Catalonia for the foreseeable future.