Rusyns in Al-Jazeerah

Outpost Dispatch, Vol. 2, #4, September 2004

The Rusyns were mentioned in one of the unlikeliest of places on 21 February: in an editorial on the website of Al-Jazeerah. The editorial, called “Nationality Question,” comments on the recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights to reject the claim of Sliesian activists in Poland to have their group declared a nationality. The article sets out to answer the question, “What is nationality?”

The editorial decides that “nationality cannot be decided on by courts of governments – else there would be no Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Serbs, Bulgarians or any of the myriad other nationalities in Eastern Europe Today. The Hapbsburg, Russian, German and Ottoman authorities would have made sure of that. Instead, despite their best efforts, these nationalities survived because they clung to their identities.”

Rusyns are mentioned as Ruthenians: “Who nowadays considers the Ruthenians, the Carpathians, the Ladins and the Pomaks? Yet 20 years ago, who would have imagined that the Bosnians or the Montenegrans would return to the political map?” In other words, there’s no Carpatho-Rus’ on the political map today, but who knows what tomorrow may bring.

The editorial concludes by stating that the Silesians may have lost the battle, but they may well win the war. “The human rights court’s ruling will not stop Silesian nationalist agitation. In time their separate identity will be recognized in some way…In today’s global village we all benefit from a rich cultural mix. That there is a France, a Poland, an India, an Egypt, a Saudi Arabia benefits us all. But we are also enriched by the nationalities without states of their own, like the Scots, Basques, Tamils and Kurds.”

It must be pointed out that this Al-Jazeerah is not the Al-Jazeera, but a US-based website which shares the name. The article originally appeared in the 20 February issue of the English-language
Arab News.

No comments: