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Archived Articles 22 Oct 2009  EWR
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It is high time to abolish the concept of ethnic minorities
Europe.view column, Oct 22nd 2009, from Economist.com

Should the Polish ethnic minority in Germany have the same rights as the German ethnic minority in Poland? It sounds fair: Germans in Poland get schooling in the mother-tongue, street signs in both languages and guaranteed representation in parliament. Poles in Germany get almost nothing. But why only the Poles? What about the Czechs and Hungarians? Or the Turks? For that matter, what about the British in Poland? They have their cultural festivals (Last Night of the Proms in Cracow is already a major annual event). And why are we talking only about in Poland? The British minority in Slovakia may not be quite as big as the Hungarian one, but it has its quirks too—such as playing cricket.

Getting silly about all of this is easy; finding a sensible rule is more difficult. Size clearly matters, but how small is too small? Surely the smaller minorities are the ones that most need protection. And the biggest ones (Mingrelians in Georgia, for example) are hardly minorities at all.

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