Judicial adjudication of language rights in Central, Eastern, and South-Eastern Europe: principles and criteria
Central, Eastern, and South-Eastern Europe are among the regions where minority, including linguistic rights, are more developed, at least on paper. Not always, however, have these rights been fully and effectively implemented so far. Several obstacles hamper effective implementation. Besides general problems, such as high costs or administrative and organizational requirements, in many countries of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, linguistic rights have been granted as a concession to the international community rather than out of sincere commitment. Minority rights are thus often highly politicized. In such a context, the role of the judiciary in determining principles and criteria for the practical development of linguistic rights is of extreme importance. The paper casts some light on the adjudication of linguistic rights of national minorities in Central, Eastern, and South-Eastern Europe, by examining the relevant case law and, above all, by trying to infer the underlying principles developed by the courts. It concludes that courts are overall quite deferential to the general political climate in their respective country. At the same time, however, some judicial decisions clearly indicate that courts are gradually emancipating from the mainstream political options and are increasingly able to impose non-majoritarian decisions, thus proving evidence of a slow but evolving establishment of the rule of law.
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