Bilingual Carinthia

Central Europe News Briefs

The-56-year-old Ortstafelstreit (town sign argument) over bilingual signage in Carinthia formally ended Aug. 16, with the inauguration of the first German-Slovene town signs for Eisenkappel (Železna Kapla) and Sittersdorf (Žitara Vas).

The compromise was reached by officials in early 2011, establishing that towns with a Slovene population of least 17.5% be referred to in their native language, as well as German.

Slovene representatives and the regionally dominant right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) were unable to reach consensus to date, even though the enforcement of bilingual road signs in multiethnic areas is a requirement of the Austrian State Treaty of 1955.

“The Austrian tradition of paying attention to each other is a reason for pride,” said Chancellor Werner Faymann (Social Democratic Party, SPÖ), “and should serve as an example for the entire European community.“

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