European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)


Press Release – 25.05.1999

European Commission against Racism and Intolerance publishes three more country reports

STRASBOURG, 25.05.99 - Andorra, Sweden and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” are the subject of the sixth series of country-by-country spot-check reports from the Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI). All three reports cover developments in the respective countries until October 1998.

ECRI is publishing reports on all 41 of the Council of Europe’s member States.1 Each of these reports is followed up for four years.2

The reports identify problems and their causes and offer advice and solutions. They play a key role in the on-going dialogue between the Organisation and its member States on curbing racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance. The reports can be accessed in full on ECRI’s internet site, in English and French.

ECRI’s specific findings and proposals include:

In Andorra, where the population has dramatically increased in recent decades and non-citizens now make up almost 80% of the country’s inhabitants, racism and intolerance do not seem to constitute a serious problem. At the same time, there appears to be very little legislation dealing expressly with racial discrimination, the introduction of which would serve as a preventive measure. ECRI also considers that legislation on nationality – currently 25 years’ residence is required for naturalisation -- should be in line with European standards.

In Sweden around 20% of the population comes from an immigrant background. The country is home to three main traditional minority groups: the Samis, the Tornedalen Finns and the Roma/Gypsies. Although Sweden’s approach to combating racism and intolerance provides many examples of “good practices”, there has been an increase in racial violence and manifestations over recent years, often initiated by skinhead and neo-Nazi groups. Antisemitism remains a problem, as evident from sporadic incidents of vandalism and violence. Direct and indirect discrimination in the fields of employment and housing persist, as do difficulties in proving and remedying it in these and other fields. ECRI considers that there is a need to ensure a full and consistent implementation of legislation in force, and to develop further educational and awareness-raising measures which would enable the majority in Swedish society to understand and respect the culture and background of minority groups.

The situation in “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”3 must be seen in the context of the difficulties posed by the continuing volatile developments in neighbouring areas. Recent years have seen positive steps as far as the representation of ethnic Albanians in public life is concerned, including in government and the judiciary. At the same time, relationships between different ethnic groups, in particular ethnic Macedonians and Albanians, are tense, with prejudice existing on both sides. The Roma/Gypsy community constitutes a disadvantaged minority. ECRI considers that there is a need to keep the law on citizenship under review, with special regard to naturalisation and to the effectiveness of procedures for ensuring its fair implementation, and to ensure that criminal and administrative law is applied impartially and implemented in a non-discriminatory manner.


1 Reports published to-date cover the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

2 Reports being followed up in 1999 are on Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland.

3 As of the date of the report (October 1998).