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Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel has promised far-reaching improvements in matters concerning minorities in Austria, according to Bernhard Sadovnik, chairman of the Council of the Carinthian Slovenes. The improvements Schüssel has discussed with Sadovnik are mainly limited to legal issues.
Amongst other things, Schüssel is said to have accepted requests for changes in the proposed Bill for the Protection of Minorities in the Austrian Constitution. The hotly debated article 19, for example, which dates from the 1867 Constitution and which secures the protection of all "tribes" in Austria, will not be removed, said Sadovnik.
This year, Austria will ratify the European Charter for Minority Languages and will revise the Austrian minority law (Volksgruppengesetz). The current broadcasting in minority languages by the public-service broadcaster ORF will be safeguarded by a revision of the so-called ORF-legislation which guarantees its continued existence as a public service. The only matter which appears to have been left aside is the question of the financing for three private minority-language radio-stations in Austria.
"It seems that the Chancellor really intends to improve his relations with Austria's minorities. However, at the end of the year, we will have to measure his declared intentions against the results we get", Sadovnik stressed.