September 19, 2007
While in Belgium
the debate rages on about how to manage one state with two groups with so many rifts between them, I find myself thinking about a case of 3 languages and 3 cultures who share one land – the region known as South Tyrol or (for the Italians) Bolzano-Bolzen.
Although they are two separate cases with numerous differences, I’m interested in exploring how Tirolians manage their social and political institutions. Is it possible that there are lessons that can be learned and applied to the Belgian situation?
Once a part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, more than 69% of South Tirolians speak German. While 26% speak Italian and just over 4% speak the lesser known Ladin language.
It became an Italian province after WWI in 1919, the government later engaged in an infamous campaign to populate the area with more Italians.
The region is considered a Eurozone, which is a mostly symbolic name to encourage cross border cooperation for people of a common culture or orgin. There are language quotas for public jobs, and apparently many different social institutions are divided according to language.
Of course I’ve not been to South Tirol so I have not seen with my own eyes how this is all functioning. But if a region with so many differences and such a tumultuous history can make an effort to cooperate for a stable and prosperous future, why not demand the same from Belgium?
I shall keep reading and eventually seek a Tirolian to explain how they see things.Author : Mark F. Rendeiro