The Queen’s University of Belfast | The Institute of European Studies | European Liaison
Dealing with Minorities – a Challenge for Europe
by Michael Breisky, Ambassador of Austria to the Republic of Ireland
The heirs of multinational Empires
According to many historians, Europe’s Golden Age should be seen as the decades following the Congress of Vienna in 1814/15. Indeed, over thirty years of almost complete peace and no major wars for a whole century make this judgement understandable. If we look at the map of Europe drawn up at the Congress, we see there three major powers of multinational nature: they are the Empire of the Hapsburg Monarchy, Czarist Russia and the Ottoman Empire. Looking at today’s state of affairs we note that the Hapsburg Monarchy has disappeared and today’s Russia and Turkey have been greatly reduced in their territories.
What happened to the rest of the area belonging to these three major players? Well, their territories are now divided up by 23 sovereign countries, most of them new ones, and this number still leaves out Russia, Turkey and the new countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Four of the 23 – Finland, Austria, Greece and Italy – are already members of the EU and the remaining 19 aspire to follow sooner or later. (more…)