Eduardo J. Ruiz Vieytez* and Markko Kallonenâ Territorial Autonomy and European National Minorities: South Tyrol, the Basque Country and the ...

Eduardo J. R u i z Vieytez* a n d Markko Kallonen�

    Territorial A u t o n o m y and European National Minorities:
      S o u t h Tyrol, the Basque C o u n t r y a n d the A l a n d Islands

                                            I. INTRODUCTION
The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the historical, legal and political ele-
ments of the current situation and conflict in the Basque Country, South Tyrol and the
Aland Islands through a comparison between these regions. Recent events in the Basque
Country have stressed the existence of an unresolved conflict within the Spanish state.
This article seeks to compare the legal and political system of the Basque Country with
the cases of the Aland Islands and South Tyrol to reflect on the elements which make
territorial autonomy either successful or not in managing national identity conflicts
within Western European states. To develop our analysis, we will systematically describe
the similarities and differences between the three cases, concentrating on the different
legal and political aspects. Finally, we will draw some conclusions, including some future

                                      ll.    7he Basque Country
The Basque Country' is located in Southwestern Europe, at the western corner of the Per-
enees Mountains. The concept and delimitation of the Basque Country is not a peaceful
one. Traditionally, the term 'Basque Country' has referred to the Basque-speaking popula-
tions and, subsequently to the lands occupied by them. However, the influence of Latin
languages has been reducing the Basque-speaking area for the last ten centuries. Today we
consider the Basque Country to be formed by all the political or historical communities in
which the Basque language (Euskera) and culture have remained alive in some way. In this

* Director of the Institute of Human Rights at the University of Deusto (The Basque Country).
t Researcher at the European Academy of Bozen/Bolzano (South Tyrol).
1 In the Basque language, EuskalHerrin (EH); in Spanish, Pais Vasco; In French, Pays Basque.

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sense, the Basque Country covers approximately 20,000 km2, of which 18,000 are to the
south of the Pyrenees and 2,000 to their north, within the French Republic. However it is
necessary to clarify from the very beginning that there is a strong political opinion stating
that Upper Navarra2 is not a Basque territory. In fact, the current Basque Autonomous
Community includes only the three provinces of Biscay (Bizkaia), Gipuzkoa and Alava,
with a size of around 7,000 kM2.
    The Northern Basque Country is located in the 64' territorial administration division or
French departement, Atlantic Pyrenees.1he population of the Basque area is only 40% of the
total population of this departement, the capital of the departement (Pau) being located out-
side the Basque area. This departement makes part of the French region of A quitaine, whose
capital is the city ofBordeaux. The regions in France enjoy some administrative competencies
but no sort of political autonomy system has been developed in the French Republic. In the
last years there has been a significant movement within the Northern Basque Country, with
the support of the majority of the municipalities, demanding the creation of a new Basque
department. However, these demands have not been taken into consideration by the succes-
sive French governments.
    The current population of the Basque Country is around 2.8 million, with 2.1 million
living inside the Basque Autonomous Community. One third of the actual population
moved into the Basque Country from different Spanish regions, especially in the 1960s and
1970s. Only one third of the people have native grandparents. There are also very important
Basque communities in Latin America and in the United States. Foreign immigrants repre-
sent today in the Basque Country no more than 2.5% of the population and most of them
are citizens of other European countries.
     Spanish nationalism began to evolve during the nineteenth century following the
French model. The attempts to politically unify the kingdom came into conflict with the
special political regime of the Basque Provinces. Laws enacted in 1839 and 1876 would
suppress the most important aspects of this semi-independent political system. Nation-
alism was also developed among the Basque in the late second half of the nineteenth
century, creating a political party: Eusko Alderdi Jeltzalea-Partido Nacionalista Vasco (EAJ-
PNV),3 which gained ground rapidly.
     In 1931, following the proclamation in Spain of the Second Republic, a system was estab-
lished in the Constitution to enable some regions to gain autonomy. The Basque Country
(without Navarra) elected an autonomous government in 1936 that was suppressed a year
later after the conquest of the whole territory by insurgent military forces in the Span-
ish Civil War. The Franco regime was characterized by a savage repression of the Basque
national and linguistic identity. As a counteraction to this repression, new left-leaning
nationalist groups sprang up, including in some cases the use of armed struggle to combat

2 'Upper Navarra refers to the actual Community of Navarra while 'Lower Navarra is the ancient part of the
  Kingdom ofNavarra in the Northern part ofthe Pyrenees or French Basque Country.Wewill refer to historical
  Upper Navarra as'Navarra.
3 The name is different in Basque and Spanish versions, meaning respectively 'Basque Party of God and Old
  Laws' and `Basque Nationalist Party'.

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the dictatorship. Amongst these groups, Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA)' was founded in
1962 and still carries out violent action, although popular support for the use of violence is
becoming marginal.

The current Basque conflict, however, has not to do directly with armed struggle, but with
the political controversy about sovereignty and the rigbt to self-determination. The pres-
ent system of autonomy in force for the Southern Basque Country is based on the Spanish
Constitution of 1978 and the historical rights of the four historical territories (provinces).
Today, Navarra is an Autonomous Community of its own, while the three provinces of
Biscay, Gipuzkoa, and Alava have constituted the Basque Autonomous Community since
1979 based on an Act on Autonomy passed bv the Spanish Parliament and approved by
referendum by the Basque population.

                                       B.    The Aland Islands
The Aland Islands is a monolingual Swedish-speaking region located in northern Europe,
in the Baltic Sea between Finland and Sweden. The population of Aland is approximately
25,000 of which nearly 40% live in Mariehamn, the administrative centre of the islands
which is as well the only city on the islands. The total area of Aland Island is 6,784 km2 of
which 1,527 km2 is land area. The region encompasses thousands of islands, the majority
of which are uninhabited.
    Aland was part of the kingdom of Sweden until the year 1809 when as a consequence
of war Sweden lost Finland and Aland to imperial Russia. From 1809 to 1917 Aland
belonged to the Grand Duchy of Finland which formed an autonomic entity as a part of
the Russian Empire. Russia fortified Aland during the Crimean War in 1856. Afterwards
the islands were demilitarized according an international treaty signed bWhe countries
involved in the conflict. Finland declared itself independent in 1917 as a consequence of
the Russian Revolution and the breakdown of the Russian Empire.5
    Alanders wanted to grasp the moment and join the country they felt they belonged to,
namely Sweden. Sweden showed interest in realizing the aspiration of the inhabitants of
the Aland Islands. Finland was not willing to accept this and relations between Sweden
and Finland become strained. The Finnish Parliament adopted an Autonomy Act for
Aland in 1920 which the Alanders did not accept. Moreover, the question on Aland had
an international dimension due to the earlier mentioned treaty on demilitarization of the
islands. The question was addressed to the League of Nations and Finland and Sweden
were prepared to accept its decision on the matter as a basis for the future of Aland.6
    In June 1921 the League of Nations declared its decision according to which Aland

4 Euskadi TaAskatasuna (ETA) literally means:`Basque Fatherland and Freedom'.
5 See, for example, James Barros, 7he iland Island Question. Its Settlementby the League of Nations, (New
  Haven, 1968); Harry Jansson and Johannes Salminen (eds.), TheSecondAlandIslands Question -Autononry
  orIndependence? (l\lariehamn, 2002)..
6 Thomas l\1usgrave, SelfDetermination and NationalMinorities (Oxford, 1997),32-3.

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would remain as a part of Finland. The Finnish state was obliged to provide Alanders with
broad self-government, protection and guarantees for the maintenance of their culture
and lastly to accept the demilitarization and neutralization of the islands in an interna-
tional treaty.7
    The 1921 Autonomy Act on Aland was revised in 1951. This law became outdated and
finally in 1991 a new law, which is the current law in force, was promulgated.8

                                             C.   South Tyrol
South Tyrol is located in northeastern Italy and shares border with Switzerland and
Austria. Its mountainous area covers 13,600 km2 of which over 64% lies at an altitude of
over 1500 meters above sea level. The territory of South Tyrol belonged for centuries to
the larger Tyrolean entity being part of Austrian Empire from the 13`" century until 1919,
excluding the years under the Napoleonic occupation 1810-14. Italy signed a secret pact
in 1915, which lead to its entering the First World War on the side of the entente. One of
the territories promised to Italy, as a compensation for joining the war on the side of the
entente was South Tyrol.99
    South Tyrol was officially annexed by Italy according the treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye
in 1919. According to the last census conducted by Austria in 1910,'° 89% of the South
Tyrolean population was German, 4% Ladinsll and 3% Italians. Italy promised to safeguard
the identity of its new linguistic minority after the annexation. However, no measures were
taken to hold to this promise. In 1922 the Fascists rose to power and ended the hopes of
the South Tyroleans for the protection of their language and culture. During the Second
World War South Tyrol's German-speaking inhabitants were forced to opt either to leave
the country to be resettled in an area in the Third Reich or stay in South Tyrol and face
forced transportation to southern parts of Italy.12 After the Second World War, South
Tyrolean representatives together with the provisional government of Austria tried in vain
to influence peace negotiations requesting that South Tyrol be returned to Austria.13 Italian

7 Ibid, 36-7.
8 Act on the Autonomy of Aland, 1991, at
9 The Treaty of London was signed by Italy, Great Britain, France and Russia in April 1915. According to the
   treaty Italy was supposed to receive as a compensation for its joining the war not only South Tyrol but also
   the coastline of Istria and Dalmatia as well as some smaller areas.
10 Giinter Rautz, Die Sprachenrecbte der Minderheiten, ein Rechtsvergleicb zwischen Osterreich und Italien
   (Baden-Baden, 1999),191.
11 Ladins are the oldest and smallest language group of the province. Reto-Romanic, Ladin culture is concen-
   trated particularly in the five Dolomite valleys ofVal Gardena, Livinallongo, Fassa, Ampezzo and Val Badia.
   Christoph Perathoner, Die Dolomitenladiner 1848-1918, (Bozen, 1998), 23-5; Government of the Province
   of Bolzano-Siidtirol (ed.), South Tyrol- an Inrioduction (Bolzano, 2002).
12 See, for instance, Rolf Steininger, Sudtirol im 20. Jahrhundert (Innsbruck 1997),153; Umberto Corsini and
   Rudolf Lill,flltofldige 1918-1946 (Bolzano, 1988), 261.
13 In South Tyrol163,777 signatures were collected calling for a plebiscite and in Innsbruck a huge demonstra-
   tion was held on 5 May 1946.

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borders were officially reconfirmed in 1947 in the Peace Treaty of Paris. The agreement on
the self-government of South Tyrol was reached by the Italian Prime Minister De Gasperi
and Austrian Foreign Minister Gruber in 1946." This agreement was formally signed in
1947 and annexed to the peace treaty with Italy. The South Tyrol question was thereby given
international standing. A first Statute of Autonomy was passed by the Italian Parliament in
1948, but it referred not only to German-speaking South Tyrol but also included the Italian-
speaking region of Trentino. As a result, the post-war years were characterized by disputes
and clashing interests of the South Tyrolean and Italian governments. South Tyrolean activ-
ists organized bomb attacks to which Italian authorities answered with harsh measures in
South Tyrol. At the same time, Austria brought the case to the attention of the UN. A new
agreement was reached in 1969 (known as the 'Packet'), consisting of a set of 137 concrete
measures with an aim to establish effective autonomy in South Tyrol. As a consequence a
new Statute of Autonomy was drafted and passed in 1972. This Statute is currently in force
and was amended in 2000. The official settlement of the dispute before the UN was not
reached until 1992.15


                                         A.    Territorial Aspects
All three territories enjoying self-governance rights are geographically very small in
comparison with their respective states: Spain (Basque Country 1S°�fo), Italy (South Tyrol
2.3%) and Finland (bland Islands 05%).
    Both the Basque Country and South Tyrol areas are characterized by their dramatic
landscape. In both cases, very mountainous territory determines the traditional way of life
in many aspects. In the case of South Tyrol, the average altitude of the land is quite high.
The Basque Country, however, is located on the coastal zone of the Bay of Biscay but, to
a great extent, the structure of the territory is also based on narrow valleys surrounded by
steep mountains. Aland is obviously a territory in which small islands are scattered, and
consequently has a strong maritime dependence.
    Neither Tyrol nor the Basque Country, even though they are geographically difficult
areas, have ever been isolated in any way, since they have seen the transit of numerous
peoples and groups through their respective territories. In the case of Tyrol, the Brenner
Pass has been for many centuries the easiest way of communication between the Ger-
manic and Latin worlds, while in the Basque Country, the western comer of the Pyrenees
has been one of the two main ways linking the Iberian Peninsula with the rest of Europe.

14 The text of the treaty can be found in German at the following web site: doku/
15Antony Alcock, TheSouth Tyralllutonamy -!1 Sbort Introduction (Bolzano, 2001),
   aprov/publ/publ�etreso.asp?PRES_ID=1899; Melissa Magliana, TheAutonomousProvince ofSouth TyroL--41
   ModelofSelf-Governance? (Bolzano, 2000), 24-42; Emma Lantschner,'Breve Sintesi della Storia dell'Alto
   Adige', in Joseph Marko, Sergio Ortino and Francesco Palermo (eds.), L'ordinamento speciale della Provincia
   Autonomadi Bolzano (Verona, 2001), 14-33, at 32.

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Aland plays a more peripheral role in the continent, although it also enjoys a significant
geopolitical position in the Baltic Sea area in regional terms.

The three areas are also similar in that they are border regions. South Tyrol is located
on the Italian border with the Austrian Republic; the Southern Basque Country has a
frontier with France, while Aland is situated halfway between Sweden and Finland. Even
more, the historical territories both of Tyrol and the Basque Country are to-date divided
between two different states. In the first case, North and East Tyrol remain part of Austria,
while Italy annexed South Tyrol in 1919. In the second case, as we have already explained,
the border of the Pyrenees has been dividing for many centuries a common Basque lan-
guage and culture between the French and Castilian-Spanish political entities. In both
cases the autonomous area we are referring to here is located in the southern part of the
    This element of territorial division is to some extent repeated in the interior of the
respective southern territories. In the Basque situation, the perception of administrative
division is due to the fact that Navarra has not been incorporated into the Basque Auton-
omous Community. In the South Tyrolean case, the autonomous province of South Tyrol
is one of the two provinces of the Autonomous Region of Trentino-Alto Adige.16
    A major aspect in the case of South Tyrol is the strategic importance of the area at
hand. The historical special status of South Tyrol was based on its importance as a gateway
to the Alps. It was of immense importance for the trade and domination of surrounding
areas. A way to guarantee the stability of the regions was by granting it extended self-gov-
erning rights. The strategic importance of South Tyrol was underlined again by treaties
before the First World War leading the Italian state to take part in the war on the side
of the allied powers. The significance of the South Tyrolean mountainous area for the
defence of the Italian state became clear again after the Second World War. The majority
of South Tyrol's German-speaking population hoped for reunification with Austria, but
it was not granted to them .17 Today strategic reasons do not play such an important role
in the case of South Tyrol.
    As for Aland, its compactness has favoured addressing the administration powers of
different entities throughout history. Aland has been administrated in the past by Sweden
or Finland or it has formed its own administrative entity. The fact that Aland is an archi-
pelago has sometimes protected it from turbulent times, but on the other hand has made
it very vulnerable and dependent on the surrounding states.
    Finland's strategic interests concerning the Aland Islands have been obvious. Aland
became an object of international law in nineteenth century due to military reasons. Its

16 It is important to note that the five traditional Ladin-speaking valleys were divided by the Fascist regime
   in 1924 and they are still divided into three different provinces: Badia and Gardena remain in the province
   of South Tyrol, but Fassa was incorporated into the autonomous province of Trento, while Livinallongo-
   Fodom and Ampezzo are part of the Province of Belluno (Region of Veneto). As a consequence, Ladins
   living in different provinces are enjoying different level of protection. Manuela Zappe, Das Etniscbe Zusam-
   menleben in Sudtirol, Europaische Hochschulschriften Reihe XXI (Frankfurt am Main,1996),103-4, 271.
17 Melissa Magliana, 1heAutonomous Province ..., 24-5.

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location holds importance for all the states around the Baltic Sea. It seems that it has not
lost its importance in spite of technical progress and changing international politics. In
fact, the most potential present crisis or conflict areas close to Finland are located south
or east of its borders. In a case of escalating conflict, the maintenance of Finland would
mainly rest on sea transportation.18
     The history of South Tyrol and Aland contains an analogy; the decisions concerning
the fate of the Aland Islands and of South Tyrol were made after World War I as a result
of drawing the new borders in Europe, borders which were, according to United States
President Wilson's declaration, supposed to guarantee the self-determination principle
for people following the 'clearly recognizable lines of nationality In both cases the
 aspirations of the majority of the population were not fulfilled. The victorious powers
 could not allow all European minorities to decide for themselves to which country they
would belong due to state interests and fear of facing dangerous similar situations in their
 own countries. Moreover, Aland under Finnish supremacy was seen as a Swedish-speak-
 ing stronghold in Finland that would also serve as a guarantee for the permanence of the
 Swedish-speaking minority on the mainland.20
     The last aspect concerning the territory discussed here is that of delimitation. This
 appears to be an important issue in the current politics of the Basque Country, but not for
Aland Islands. In the case of South Tyrol, there is no discussion on the territorial bound-
 aries of the province, apart from the weak claim for the regrouping of the three Ladin
 valleys outside the autonomous province of South Tyrol. In the Basque Country, however,
 the separation of Navarra constitutes a major topic, since the majority of the popula-
 tion in the Basque Autonomous Community regards Navarra as a substantial part of the
 Basque history and culture. Many social, cultural, and political organizations work in the
 same line along the four territories of the Southern Basque Country. However, there is a
 very strong political attitude in the opposite sense, represented mainly by the first party
 in this province (a brother party of the right-wing Spanish Popular Party). In the polls,
 approximately one fourth of the votes in Navarra go for Basque national parties, and some
 areas in the northwest of the territory show very high percentages of knowledge and use
 of the Basque language. This conflict over delimitation begins with the naming of the
 country. There is no agreement even on the terminology with which to refer to the Basque
 Country or to the whole Basque area, which is considered by some sectors as a kind of
'Greater-Basque-Country' idea. Paradoxically, there is much less disagreement about con-
 sidering the Northern Basque Country (including Lower Navarra) as an integral part of
 the Basque Country. In this sense, a full understanding of the different meanings of the
 concept 'Basque Country' depends on both the interlocutor and the context in which the

18 Teija Tiilikainen, 1heÄ/andIslands, Finland andEuropean Security (Mariehamn, 2002), 46-7.
19 Thomas Musgrave, SelfDetermination ..., 22-4.
20 Frank Horn, 'Minorities in Aland with Special Reference to their Educational Rights', in Lauri Hanni-
   kainen and Frank Hom (eds.), flutonomy and Demilitarisation in International La2u: TheAlandIslands in a
   ChangingEurope ('Ihe Hague, 1997),153.

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term is being used. However, the main factor for recognizing the territorial area referred
to in any discourse is the ideological one.

                                      B. Population and Society
There is a substantial difference between the populations of the studied regions. The popu-
lation of the Basque Country is approximately five times greater than the population of
the Trentino-Alto Adige region, and 50 times greater than of the Aland. As for the per
cent of total population, the Basque country comprises approximately 5.2% of the Spanish
population, South Tyrol represents only 0.8% of the Italian population and the Aland's
population forms only 0.5% of the total Finnish population.
     Aland is a practically monolingual Swedish-speaking region .21 The identity of both
the South Tyrolese and the Alanders is rooted strongly in their own regions and has
developed during the era of self-governance. Even the term 'South Tyrol' did not really
exist until its annexation to Italy; only afterwards it formed a political and cultural entity.
Aland's identity has been carved and developed by its geographical nature, monolingual
society and autonomy statute. Alanders do acknowledge their cultural and historical ties
with the Finnish Swedes living on the mainland, but primarily identify themselves as
members of a distinct group.22 Respectively the historical aspirations towards reunifica-
tion with Austria in South Tyrol cannot be considered to have strong support among the
German-speaking population of the province due to the formation of a South Tyrolean
identity over decades of internal self-government arrangements. In the Basque Country
approximately 25% of the population has Basque as its mother tongue,23 In general terms,
roughly half-a-million people on both sides of the Pyrenees speak Basque.
     Both the Basque Country and South Tyrol have in common linguistic plurality. At
the same time, both have traditionally been strongly Catholic societies. However, while in
South Tyrol we find three different clearly defined linguistic communities, the language
does not constitute an element of clear social division in the Basque Country, though
there are two main spoken languages. The separation of ethnic and linguistic communities
that can be easily identified in South Tyrol cannot be found in the Basque case. In fact,
it is obvious that knowledge of the Basque language plays a role in the socialization of
people in the Basque-speaking areas and also in social relations, but linguistic differences
do not affect fundamental social attitudes in the Basque Country. National identity in the
Basque area depends more on ideological aspects than on objective criteria of belonging
to one or another social-cultural group.

21 Approximately 95% of the Alanders speak Swedish as their mother tongue. There are just over a thousand
   Finns, less than 5%of the local population, living on the islands who have declared Finnish as their mother
22 Dag Anckar, Aland as a Microstate. The Independence Scenario', in Harry Jansson and Johannes Salminen
   (eds.), TheSecond.41andIslands Question ..., 224-5.
23 Basque is not an Indo-European language although the vocabulary displays a strong influence of Latin,
   Spanish, and French words.

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The German language, a minority language in the Italian state, is the dominant lan-
guage for the population of the South Tyrol, as is Swedish in Aland, while the Basque
language is a minority language even inside the Basque Country. In this regard, it should
be kept in mind that the German language is a very strong and official language in the
neighbouring countries of Austria, Switzerland, and Germany, as is Swedish for Sweden,
while the Basque language has no support from any state-like entity, and is also in a very
difficult situation both in Navarra and in the French Basque Country.

                                              C. Education
Autonomy arrangements also guarantee the conservation of identity through Aland's edu-
 cational system, which, unlike on the mainland, is monolingual. The small size and ethnic
 homogeneity in Aland have helped to preserve its autonomy. The size of the Finnish-
 speaking population is small and does not pose a considerable threat to the local culture
 due to reasons we will discuss in the chapter dealing with legal framework (see Section
 III.D). The status of Swedish-speaking minority in the Finnish framework is particular
 due to the fact that Swedish is the second official language of the country, not just a lan-
 guage of the minority. Therefore, it can be said that Alanders enjoy a blend of territorial
 and personal autonomy within the Finnish State. In Finland any person can use her/his
 Swedish mother tongue in monolingual Swedish and bilingual municipalities. One has
 also the right to communicate with the authorities by using one's own mother tongue.14
The Finns are obliged to learn Swedish at school even if the person is living in a purely
 Fmnish-speaking region. By contrast, education in Finnish is not offered in Aland by the
 public authorities. English is a mandatory subject at schools; Finnish is optional. Aland
 does not have institutions offering higher university education, which is seen as a negative
 factor, since the young Alanders move to Sweden or to Finland in order to receive univer-
 sity education. Many of them do not return afterwards to their region of origin.25
     In South Tyrol there are three parallel school systems corresponding to the linguistic
 communities: German, Italian and Ladin. According to the Autonomy Statute, teaching in
 primary and secondary schools must be given in the mother tongue of the pupils. Due to
functional autonomy the region has increased its influence on education in South Tyrol; this
 does not however mean that it would hold primary competencies in the area of education .26
     As for the Basque Country, the education system is mixed, parents being offered the
 choice for their children to be taught in Spanish (model A), in Basque (model D) or in

24 A municipality in Finland becomes bilingual if the number of speakers of the other language reaches 8%of
   the total population or is at least 3,000. However, a bilingual municipality only becomes monolingual if the
    number of speakers of the other language decreases to 6%or falls below 3,000.
25 Farimah Daftary, 'Insular Autonomy: A Framework for Conflict Settlement? .A Comparative Study of
   Corsica and the Aland Islands', ECMI working paper no.9, October 2000,14.
26 Government of the Province of Bolzano-Siidtirol, South Tyrol..., chapter `Schools and Further Education;
   Jens Woelk, "Ihe Case of South Tyrol: Lessons for Conflict Resolution?', paper presented at the 5' Annual
   Convention, Association for the Study of Nationalities, on Identity and the State: Nationalism and Sover-
   eignty in a Changing \Vorld, Columbia University, NYC, 13 April 2000.

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both languages at the same time (model B). Although Basque is a minority language
inside the region, a vast majority of the parents ask for models B and D for their children's
primary education.27

                                              D.    Economy
Aland is a prosperous region within Finland, its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) being
second only to Finland's capital area and its unemployment rate is low. Yet, there are sea-
sonal changes due to tourism and the economy's sensitivity to external fluctuations in the
markets. Aland's economy is traditionally based on agriculture, fishing and shipping the
size of industries being small. The tourism on Aland has been playing an increasing role
as a (seasonal) income source for the islanders. Tourism is connected to the frequent ferry
traffic between Sweden, Finland and Aland.28
     South Tyrol's strong economy is based primarily on tourism. Other important
branches are the manufacturing industry and agriculture. As a consequence of the Auton-
omy Statute the public sector also offers plenty of working opportunities in state and
provincial administration.29 Today the average income per capita in autonomous province
of South Tyrol is one of the highest in Italy and higher than in the neighbouring Austrian
Bundesland ofTyrol. The size of the industry is small and having more than one occupation
as an income source is typical for the population of this autonomous province. Another
indicator of the powerful economy in South Tyrol is its low unemployment rates
     Economically, the Southern Basque Country is one of the richest areas in Spain in terms
of per capita income. The unemployment rate is rather low outside the metropolitan area of
Bilbao. The average income in the Basque Country is very similar to that of the EU.3'
     South Tyrol, the Basque Country and Aland also share high standards of living, as
their respective GDPs are higher than the average in Italy, Spain and Finland. The three
places can be considered as some of the richest areas within their respective states enjoy-
ing extensive services offered by a developed welfare state. The economic structure of
these autonomous areas is mainly based on service sector. Yet during the 20th century,
the Basque Country was a very powerful industrial area while South Tyrol's and Aland's
economies mainly rest in the primary sector.

27 The three models are known as A, B and D since the letter C is not used in the Basque language.
28 Statistics and Research Aland (ASUB), Aland in Figures, at
29 Government of the Province of Bolzano-Sudtirol, South Tyrol..., chapter `Employment'.
30 The average unemployment rate in the region of Trentino-Alto Adige is 2.1% while the general national
   unemployment rate in Italy is approximately 9%. Even more striking is the difference between the unem-
   ployment rate among young people (people under 25) which in Trentino Alto-Adige is 4.2% and 28%
   in Italy as a whole, Italian National Statistical Institute, at and Provincial
   Statistics Institute, at
31 For statistics on the Basque Country, see (Statistics from
   the Basque Autonomous government) and
   (Statistics from the Spanish government).

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Due to economical prosperity, all three regions have been appealing destinations to
migration flows- The Basque Country was for many years a very attractive area for manv
inhabitants of rural areas in western and southern Spain. Although this big process of
immigration stopped after the crisis in the late 1970s, today only one third of the Basque
population has native grandparents. South Tyrol also experienced significant immigration
flows from other regions of Italy from the 1920s until the 1970s. Today a considerable
number of seasonal workers, coming especially from Eastern European countries, arrive
yearly in South Tyrol where they are employed in agriculture and tourism. Aland has not
received any relevant population from the Finnish mainland, due in part to its autonomy
system, as we will discuss later (see Section IILD). Fmally, the number of immigrants
arriving to the Basque Country, South Tyrol and the Aland Islands is, generally speaking,
lower than in other Spanish, Italian or Finnish regions.


                         ll.   Territorial Self-Government and Asymmetry
The Basque Country, Aland and South Tyrol are autonomous territories within the frame-
work of the respective states of Spain, Finland and Italy. In other words, self-government
of the people inhabiting these regions is realized on a substate level. Both the Kingdom of
Spain and the Republic of Italy are unitary states that have adopted a decentralized model
for the internal distribution of political power. In the two countries, the decentralization
is extended to the whole territory of the state without transforming the model into a
federal one. Finland is also a unitary state in which political power is not distributed to
the administrative regions. In this sense, Aland is the only politically autonomous entity
of the Finnish state,32 In the three cases under research, the basic laws for the autonomous
system are the constitution and the respective statutes or acts on autonomy. Autonomy
based on constitution is seen as a strong guarantee for conserving the self-government
since any changes in the status would require strong democratic legitimacy.
    For South Tyrol, the Italian Constitution and Act on Autonomy date back to 1947 and
1972 respectively. Furthermore, Article 5 of the Italian Constitution declares the support
given to autonomy arrangements:

    The Republic, one and indivisible, recognises and promotes local autonomy; it shall
    apply the fullest measure of administrative decentralisation in services dependent
    on the State and adjust the principles and methods of its legislation to the require-
    ments of autonomy and decentralisation.33

32 The only other autonomy arrangement in Finland is the limited cultural autonomy granted to the indig-
    enous Sami people in their home area in Lapland. (Law no. 973/1995, adopted in July 1995).
33 Constitution ofltalv, Article 5, the text of the Constitution can be found on the I R I S data base at http:

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The current Italian Constitution was amended for the first time in 2001. Respectively, for
 the Basque Country, the Spanish Constitution was adopted in 1978, whereas the Statute
is in force since 1979. The present Finnish Constitution entered into force in 2000 while
Aland's current Autonomy Act was adopted in 1991 and came into force on January
      If we look for an element of asymmetry in the autonomous systems hitherto studied
with respect to the rest of the communities or regions within the state, the answer is con-
 troversial. Aland's autonomy is unique within Finland's state structure. This asymmetry
 has evidently been beneficial for the region giving space for pragmatic solutions for the
 organizing of power sharing and dialogue between Finland and Aland's regional authori-
 ties. In the case of South Tyrol, the Italian Constitution foresees five autonomous regions
with a special statute34 whereas the other 15 regions are considered ordinary statute regions.
This could be considered as a first element of asymmetry (although shared with four other
 regions). Second, South Tyrol does not make up an autonomous region by itself since the
 autonomous province of Bolzano is one of the two provinces included in the autonomous
 region of Trentino-Alto Adige. In this sense, this region is unique, because the level of
 the strongest political power is the provincial one and not the regional one. Finally, there
 is an element of asymmetry in the fact that the autonomy for South Tyrol is included in
 an international legal instrument.35 In the same way, the autonomy status of South Tyrol
 was negotiated between the authorities of Italy and representatives of South Tyrol, more
 precisely with the representatives of the South Tyrol's People'sParty.'Ihe outcome was a
'package', which contained a detailed operations calendar regarding implementation of the
 negotiated autonomy status.
      In the case of the Basque Country, there is in principle no element of asymmetry in
 the Spanish Constitution. The latter does not even mention the communities that would
 be set up at a later stage. What constitutes in fact a peculiar reference to the Basque
 autonomy is the first Additional Provision of the Spanish Constitution. This provision
 refers to the 'historical rights' of the territories with fùeros,361his peculiarity is recognized
 for the Basque provinces of Biscay, Gipuzkoa, Alava and Navarra which gives them the
 possibility of keeping or recuperating some political powers even going further than what
 is established under Title VIII of the Constitution for the rest of the Autonomous Com-

34 Apart from Trentino-Alto Adige, Sicily, Sardinia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and the Aosta Valley are also special
   regions according to the Italian Constitution of1947.
35 The Gruber-De Gasperi Agreement, see section III.E.
36 This word has no clear translation into English. In terms of public law it refers to the special regime enjoyed
   until the nineteenth century by the provinces or territories of Biscay, Alava, Gipuzkoa and Navarra.
37 Additional disposition: 'The Constitution protects and respects the historic rights of the territories with
   fueros. The general updating of the fuero system shall be carried out, when appropriate, within the frame-
   work of the Constitution and the Statutes of Autonomy.'1his is, for instance, the legal basis of the political
   power of the Basque provinces in tax law and tax management, roads and traffic and in police forces.

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The asymmetry in this case can also be appreciated by considering the territorial auton-
 omy for the Basque Country as a kind of agreement between the Basque people and the
 state. In the case of the Basque Country, the principle of the contract is further empha-
 sized in the Statute of Autonomy. The Additional Provision to the Act on Autonomy of
 the Basque Country states that 'the acceptance of the system of autonomy established
 in this Statute does not imply that the Basque People waive the rights that as such may
 have accrued to them in virtue of their history and which may be updated in accordance
 with the stipulations of the legal system'. The Statute of Navarra also includes a very similar
Additional Provision, on the basis of the 'historical rights'that belong to the territories with
fueros. These are the remaining consequences of the special political regime of the history
 of the Basque Provinces of Biscay, Alava, Gipuzkoa, and Navarra, which lasted until the
 nineteenth century.
     To summarize, in the three cases some peculiar legal elements can be found to defend
 the special character of these territorial autonomies.

                                     B. Political Representation
According to their respective Acts on Autonomy, Aland, South Tyrol and the Basque
Country have each adopted internal parliamentary systems in which the president of
the executive body is elected by an assembly and is accountable to it (in South Tyrol the
Sudtiroler Landtag, in Aland, the Lagting and the Legebiltzarra in the Basque Country).
One difference in the systems is that the Basque president nominates the rest of the
members of the government, while in South Tyrol it is the local parliament who elects
the members of the executive (Landesregierung) based on proportional representation of
the three linguistic groups. Aland has a legislative assembly that contains 30 members and
is elected by Alanders every fourth year.38The legislative assembly of Aland appoints the
Aland government (Landska .psstyrelse). Aland's government has to be based on coalition
and consensus to make it workable.
    In each of the three cases there is a parliament with a sole chamber. However, in the
case of the Basque Statute, the fact that representation of the provinces within the Basque
Parliament is equal regardless of their population (Article 26 of the Statute), is a very
remarkable characteristic. This has a great political influence on the composition of the
parliament, when you consider that Alava has only a fifth of the population of Biscay. The
explanation for this strange composition lies in the idea of Basque nationalism as a build-
ing up of a highly decentralized country, giving a great deal of power to the territories and
their respective local parliaments and governments. In this sense, the central bodies of the
autonomous community would have wide functions of coordination, and the parliament
would remain like a second chamber of a federal system. However, the political practice
in the Basque Country has erased this initial idea and today the most important acts and
decisions are taken by the parliament of the community. The representation of the two

38 Only persons possessing regional citizenship in Aland may vote and stand in such elections.

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provinces in the regional parliament ofTrentino-Alto Adige is also the same, although in
this case differences in population are not so important. In Aland there is no internal sig-
nificant division of the archipelago that could be reflected in parliamentary composition.
    Likewise, the internal distribution of political power is also a common characteristic
in the Basque Country and the autonomous region ofTrentino-Alto Adige. In both cases,
under the autonomous level we find a provincial level of autonomy with its own parlia-
ments and governments exercising political powers. This is in fact the case of South Tyrol
where the power-sharing model is based on the proportional representation of the language
groups. In this respect, both systems have this common element of a complexity because
instead of forming a single institutional level, there are two territorial levels within the
autonomous regions. However, the historical reasons for this power sharing are unique.
    Finally, on the state level, there is one seat preserved for a representative of the Aland
Islands in the national Parliament of Finland, which consists of 200 representatives.39 This
provides Aland with one source to make its voice heard on a national level but its concrete
meaning can been seen merely as symbolic. In the case of South Tyrol there are no legal
provisions according to which any seats in the national parliament would be reserved
for South Tyrolean representatives.40 In Spain, both chambers of Parliament are elected
through the provinces, so the Basque area is represented by a certain number of Members
of the Parliament in any case.
    Aland has also had a permanent representative in the Nordic Council since 1970.41
This autonomous presence has offered Aland a way to exercise regional diplomacy and
promote its interests beyond the national level. Aland, like South Tyrol and the Basque
Country, also has a representative in the EU's Committee of Regions, as well as in the
Finnish Permanent Mission to the EU.
    As for a possible representation in the central government, there is no provision in the
Basque case, while in the case of South Tyrol Article 52 in the Statute of Autonomy fore-
sees the presence of the president of the province (Landeshauptmann) in the Council of
Ministers when the former is dealing with questions affecting the autonomous province.
In both cases, the central government maintains a permanent representative in the auton-
omous regions (RegierungskommissarlCommissario del Governo),42The governor of Aland

39 This arrangement came into existence due to mutual understanding, not as a part of the negotiation con-
   cerning the Act of Autonomy.
40 However, there was an important ruling of the Italian Constitutional Court (n.438/1993) according which
   the 4% threshold for political representation of political parties in national parliament was lifted in order
   to guarantee political representation to German- and Ladin-speaking minorities. Giuseppe Avolio, 'Gli
   organi statutari. Funzioni, composizione e sistema elettorale'in Joseph Marko, Sergio Ortino and Francesco
   Palermo (eds.), Lordinamento speciale ..., 398-424, at 406-7.
41 The Nordic Council, formed in 1952, is a forum for interparliamentary cooperation. Members of this Coun-
   cil are: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Faeroe Islands, Greenland and Aland Islands.
42 This 'Government Commissioner' supervises the province and functions as a link between central adminis-
   tration and province. Melissa Magliana, TheAutonomous Province ..., 51; Antonio Lamps, '11 Commissario
   del Governo per la Provincia di Bolzano' in Joseph Marko, Sergio Ortino and Francesco Palermo (eds.),
   L ordinamento speciale ..., 558-64.

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is nominated by the President of Finland in accordance with the president of Landsting. If
a consensus is not reached, the Finnish President appoints the governor from among five
candidates nominated bv· the legislative assembly.43
    A noteworthy feature in the relations between the regional and central levels is the
existence of joint committees. 1he dland Delegation is a joint committee of the regional
government and Finland's state authorities. It consists of five members, two of which
are elected by the council of state and two by the legislative assembly of Aland, with the
Governor being the chairman of the delegation. This delegation functions as a mediator
and facilitator between the parties in case of possible disputes between regional and state
authorities. In South Tyrol there are two functioning joint committees which must be
consulted in matters relating to the implementation of the autonomy statute. These com-
mittees play a significant role in the interplay between state and regional administration.""
As for the Basque Country, the only established joint committee works solely- on the
matter of tax law and financing arrangements.

                              C.    Scope and Financing of the Autonomy
The self-governance in the Basque Country, South Tyrol and Aland is reflected in a long
list of legislative and executive powers contained in their respective Acts on Autonomy
to be exercised bWthe community or provincial bodies. In the three cases, this degree
of autonomy is complemented by an adequate provision of financial means or resources,
which can be considered itself as an important guarantee for the functioning of self-gov-
     In the Western European context, it can be stated that these regions enjoy today
extensive self-governance rights. If we compare their systems with those of other regions
or autonomous entities in the surrounding countries, it is clear that the degree of self
government granted to the Basque Country, South Tyrol and Aland are among the
highest levels of decentralization across European states, including those of a federal
nature. The level of self-government achieved by the Basque Country and South Tyrol is
the most extensive within each of their respective Spanish and Italian systems. Outside
these models but within Western European countries, it can only be compared with the
autonomy enjoyed by the Faeroe Islands and Greenland in Denmark. The case of North-
em Ireland is in this sense a peculiar one. This is because, on the one hand, the level of

-t3 Act on the Autonomy of Aland, Chapter 8, Governor and the gland delegation.
44 Thejoint committee on the regional level has twelve members 'of which six shall represent the state, two the
     Regional Parliament, two the Regional Parliament ofTrento and two that of Bolzano. Three of them must
     belong to the Italian speaking group'. The joint committee appointed to autonomous Province of Bolzano
     has six members of whom three shall represent the state and three the Province. One of the representatives
     of the sate must belong to German-speaking group, respectively one representative of the Province must be
     Italian. Special Statute for Trentino-Alto Adige, Article 107, the text can be found in the MIRIS data base
     at; Francesco Palermo, 'Ruolo e natura delle Commissioni paritetiche e delle
     norme di attuazione, in Joseph Marko, Sergio Ortino and Francesco Palermo (eds.), Lordinamento special
    . 826--t-t.

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self-government actually recognized for devolved institutions is clearly lower than the one
of the Basque Country, Aland and South Tyrol. But on the other hand, Northern Irish
people enjoy the right to self-determination, as recognized in the Good Friday Agree-
ment of 1998, unlike the populations of the Basque Country, South Tyrol or Aland.45
    The Basque Country and South Tyrol share the element that their autonomous hodies
have no explicit competencies in terms of international relations. In South Tyrol, however,
the spirit to operate on an international level has increased. South Tyrol as well as the
Province ofTrento are engaged in cross-horder cooperation with the Austrian Bundesland
of Tyrol. This joint venture called Euroregion, aimed at promoting the economics of three
regions, has its own representation in Brussels since 1995.46 Aland has the possibility to
overrule implementation of an international treaty should it collide with the Act on
Autonomy. International issues remain as the sole jurisdiction of the state in all cases.
However, in the case of the Aland Islands, the regional bodies play a role in international
affairs according to their respective Acts on Autonomy.
    One result of the negotiations which preceded Finland's membership in the EU, was
the so-called Aland Protocol'. According its provisions, Aland joined the EU as a Finnish
region in 1995 becoming a member of the customs union but staying out of the tax union.
Furthermore Aland's regional citizenship was about to stay in force despite colliding with
the principles of the EU, namely free movement of people, goods and capital. The Aland
Islands had an option to stay out of the EU when the rest of the state joined it, as an
acknowledgement of its international status.
    There are some major differences among the three cases in terms of providing finan-
cial autonomy. In South Tyrol, financing is provided by the state according to provisions
laid out in the Autonomy Statute .47 Most of the revenues obtained hy the state in the
province are transformed back to the budget of the autonomous bodies. In fact, the prov-
ince receives some 90% of the tax revenues in return.48 Furthermore South Tyrol receives
financing from the state for special projects in the region as well as financing from differ-
ent EU funds. South Tyrol enjoys a broad financial autonomy compared with other Italian
    In the Aland Islands the Finnish state collects the taxes in the same way as it does in
other Finnish regions. Aland receives as compensation 0.45% of the state budget to cover
the costs of local administration run by local authorities (the so-called 'amount of equali-
sation'). The Act on Autonomy also contains several provisions on reasons that would

45 However, the concept of self-determination has been widely used in South Tyrol and, mainly, in the Basque
   Country. Indeed, the Basque parliament passed a political declaration in 1990 by an overwhelming majority
   stating the right of Basque people to self-determination.
46 Francesco Palermo, Die Auflenbeziehungen der italienischen Regionen in rechtsvergleichender Sicht (Frankfurt
   am Main, 1999), 37-8; Gunther Pallaver, 'I�Euroregione: un progetto a cavallo tra politica e diritto', in
   Joseph Marko, Sergio Ortino and Francesco Palermo (eds.), Lordinamento speciale ..., 943-58, at 943.
47 Article 78, Special Statute forTrentino-Alto Adige.
48 Ibid., Article 69.
49 Melissa Magliana, 7heAutonomous Province ..., 52-3.

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increase the sum granted for Aland.50 This rather flexible framework also fosters the inter-
play between local authorities and central authorities when organizing and agreeing upon
powers between local and state administrations in a changing environment. Occasionally
regional or state authorities are temporarily vested with more competencies than are fore-
seen in the Act of Autonomy in order to carry out a particular t a s k
    In the case of the Basque Country, however, the autonomous system reflects the tra-
ditional tax independence of the historical territories. In this sense, each Basque territory
has its own treasuryand is in charge of collecting taxes from citizens. After tax collection,
provinces provide resources for the budget of the Autonomous Community first and
then for that of the state for the powers exercised by the state inside the Basque Country.
This system allows in practice an independent (although coordinated) functioning of the
Basque treasury with respect to the state one. In circumstances where the economic situ-
ation evolves better in the Basque Country than in Spain, or the autonomous administra-
tions manage tax revenues better than the central tteasury, the Basque Country.obtains a
benefit that would result in a loss if these factors were evolving the other way round. To
summarize, the Basque Country is competent to create and collect its own taxes, while
South Tyrol and Aland receive their financial means from their respective central govern-

                                        D.   Political Rights
The underlying principle is the guarantee of equal rights in political participation for all
citizens of the state. In order to safeguard these principles for minorities, special protec-
tion clauses are implemented bv the respective states. All Spanish citizens living in any
municipality of the Basque Country are entitled to vote in the Basque autonomous elec-
tions.52 Furthermore, all Spanish citizens and their descendents, even those living abroad,
whose last residence in the Spanish state was located in any of the municipalities of the
Basque Country, are entitled to vote and to be elected. Therefore, there is no requirement
of a residence period to achieve political rights in the Basque system. In the autonomous
province of Bolzano, on the contrary, there is a requirement of four years of uninterrupted
residence to be entitled to vote and be elected in provincial polls, as established in Article
25 of the Statute. In Aland, the Act on Autonomy creates regional citizenship and the
right to domicile as tools for the preservation of the Swedish identity of the Islands. This
regional citizenship is a prerequisite to public posts and participation in an election of the
legislative assembly of Aland. The right to own and hold real estate in Aland is reserved
for persons with the right of domicile. Regional citizenship is acquired at birth if one of
the parents possesses Aland citizenship. Immigrants, holding Finnish citizenship, who
have lived in Aland for five years and have satisfactory knowledge of Swedish, can obtain

50 Act on the Autonomy of Aland, Chapter 7.
51 Farimah Daftary,'Insular Autonomy ...', 45; Act on Autonomy of land, Section 32.
52 Article 7of the Statute.

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Aland citizenship upon application. On the contrary, persons who have been a resident
outside Aland for longer than five years lose their regional citizenship.s3
    In the field of linguistic rights, according to the Act on Autonomy of the Basque
Country Article 6, Basque and Spanish are both official languages in the whole territory.
According to this element of personal autonomy, everybody has the right to use either of
these languages in both private and public life. Spanish citizens have the obligation to
know Spanish 5^ but there is no obligation to know any other language of the state. The
official statute of the Basque language follows a territorial model. Basque is also supposed
to be official in some areas of Navarra. In theory, any citizen is entitled to use any of the
official languages in his or her relations with any public administration, including the judi-
ciary. However, the sociolinguistic reality of the country precludes the full implementation
of this provision. It must be said also that some sectors of public administration, especially
those depending on the central government, are very reluctant to implement any measures
to facilitate the incorporation of the Basque language into the public relations sphere.
    In the case of South Tyrol, Article 99 of the Autonomy Statute states that within the
region the German language enjoys equal status with Italian. This clause could be con-
sidered as a proclamation of the official status of German in the whole region. However,
this is not the interpretation commonly accepted. In general, German is considered to be
an official language in the territorial sense in South Tyrol, while on the regional level, the
German-speaking citizens of South Tyrol have the right to use German in their relations
with regional bodies.55 In this sense, the status of German can be considered as official in a
territorial sense in South Tyrol and in a personal sense at the regional administrative level.
The Ladin language cannot be considered an official language according to the Statute. If
there were a similar official status for the Ladin language, this would not spread over the
valleys of Badia and Gardena.

                          E.   Legal Guarantees of the Autonomy Regime
We can distinguish some differences between the guarantees given by the three self
 governmental systems. From the constitutional perspective, the Spanish Constitution
 recognizes, under Article 2, the right to autonomy of the nationalities that make up the
'Spanish nation'; but there is no further provision for granting autonomy to the Basque
 Country. The map of autonomous communities is not drawn in the Constitution and, in
 this sense, there is no specific guarantee for providing autonomy for the Basque Country
 as a whole. This also explains the fact that Navarra constitutes an autonomous community
     Another difference in terms of guarantees appears with respect to international law.
 South Tyrol's autonomy was first granted by the Gruber - De Gasperi Agreement of 1946.
To be precise, what was granted was the territorial autonomy of the German-speaking

53 Act on the Autonomy of Aland, Chapter 2.
54 Article 3 of the Spanish Constitution.
55 Article 100 of the Statute of Trentino-Alto Adige.

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