Role-Play: Minorities, Autonomy Claims and Conflict in Taagorland
Sergiu Constantin et al.
Constantin, Sergiu et al. 2023. “Role-Play: Minorities, Autonomy Claims and Conflict in Taagorland”. In Autonomy Arrangements in the World. www.world-autonomies.info.
This content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.
1. Brief Description
The Republic of Taagorland is a parliamentary unitary state with a population of 10 million people consisting of three ethnic groups: the Taagorians (73%), the Arkodians (22%), and the Keserians (5%). The Keserian minority has no kin-state and its members are scattered across their home state. Most of the people belonging to the Arkodian minority live in the historic region of Osterdia, along the border with the Republic of Arkodia, their kin-state.
For decades, Taagorland was a closed country with an authoritarian government and a one-party system. Since the mid-1980s, when the democratization process started, the Republic of Taagorland has made efforts to integrate into the international community and to be recognized as a democratic country based on inter alia principles of rule of law, human rights, respect for and protection of minorities. The Republic of Taagorland is a member of the United Nations (UN), the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and the Council of Europe (CoE). The country aims to join the European Union (EU) and submitted its application for membership. Taagorland has ratified all major UN and European legally binding instruments on human rights and minority rights (see section 5 below). The Republic of Taagorland and the Republic of Arkodia signed a bilateral treaty on friendship and cooperation, which, among other things, deals with the protection of the Arkodian minority in the Republic of Taagorland and the Taagorian minority in the Republic of Arkodia. The Taagorian Constitution and domestic norms regulate a wide range of issues of concern for national minorities. However, most Arkodians and Keserians consider that the current legal-institutional framework does not meet the expectations and needs of national minorities. They have a long list of grievances related to the rights to existence, identity, equality, and participation. The Keserians are mostly concerned about socio-economic and political inequality, and cultural autonomy. Some Keserians consider themselves indigenous peoples rather than members of a minority group. The Arkodians claim self-determination, but have different understandings of its meaning. Some seek external self-determination as their end goal, meaning the secession of the historic region of Osterdia. Others stress that the Arkodian minority needs internal self-determination and call on the Taagorian authorities to grant a special status of territorial autonomy to Osterdia. However, such an autonomy arrangement is strongly opposed by the Taagorian political elites and the majority population. Over the last 20 years, several draft laws on autonomy were introduced by the party representing the Arkodian minority in the National Assembly (Lantaag) of Taagorland but all were rejected. According to the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM), the lack of political dialogue has increased the sense of frustration among the majority and minority populations. Consequentially, this tension has led to a progressive deterioration of interethnic relations.
An underground Arkodian separatist organization emerged in the highlands of Osterdia. Separatist militants have carried out several attacks against industrial sites, symbols of the state’s authority, and security forces. Depending on whom one asks, people involved in these attacks are considered terrorists, freedom fighters, or idealists who mean well but use inappropriate methods. For the government of Taagorland, the situation in Osterdia is primarily a matter of national security. Human rights organizations criticized the governmental strategy in the region, arguing that its narrow approach creates a vicious circle of securitization processes in the ethnically divided society.
Recently, the government made public a draft constitutional amendment regarding a reform of the territorial-administrative organization of the country. The main element of the reform is the replacement of the existing 25 cantons with four large regions and the transfer of several legislative and administrative competences from the central to the regional level. The government argues that such larger administrative units (in terms of territory and population) have a better institutional capacity to attract EU funding (to strengthen economic, social and territorial cohesion) and to deliver public services to citizens. It considers this reform as the first step towards a successful economic transition to a knowledge- and service-based economy. The prolonged political crisis had a profound impact on Taagorland’s economy characterized by a high rate of unemployment and persistent income gaps between ethnic groups.
The government’s reform plan fuelled tensions in the cantons of Osterdia with Arkodian majority population. Ethnic Arkodian politicians and representatives of civil society strongly reject the territorial-administrative reorganization because Arkodians would represent less than 50% of the population in all new regions. A further destabilizing factor is the expected Supreme Court decision in a highly controversial case regarding the ban of the political party representing the interests of the Arkodian minority.
In this tense context, the international community urges all parties to take urgent steps to de-escalate the situation and take active measures to mitigate the risk of a violent inter-ethnic conflict.
2. The Role-Play
The international community is becoming increasingly concerned by the tense situation in the Republic of Taagorland. More specifically, the UN, OSCE, CoE and the EU have agreed to jointly organize the “Conference for Peace and Reconciliation in Taagorland” with the aim of facilitating a negotiated solution to the ongoing crisis. This event intends to bring together delegations representing the government of Taagorland, both the Arkodian and Keserian minorities, as well as international mediators and independent experts.
This role-play allows for high flexibility regarding participants and their roles. The role-play is coordinated by a tutor and participants are divided into four teams. The main role of the tutor is to act as the rulekeeper and intervene to maintain essential role-play elements while preventing deviations from the assigned roles throughout the sessions. During the exercise, the tutor should circulate among the teams, assess their work, address their inquiries, and collect observations to facilitate the debriefing at the end of the role-play. Ideally, each team consists of a minimum of three and a maximum of six members. The four teams are the following:
The delegation representing the government of Taagorland – it consists of ministers, diplomats, members of the Academy of Science of the Republic of Taagorland, scholars/experts on various fields (e.g., human rights and minority rights, security and anti-terrorism, constitutional law, economics).
The delegation representing the Arkodian minority – it consists of members of parliament from the party representing the interests of the Arkodian minority, leaders of main cultural organizations, civic activists, and scholars/experts on various fields (e.g., human rights and minority rights, constitutional law, cultural heritage, economics).
The delegation representing the Keserian minority – it consists of leaders of main political and cultural organizations, and scholars/experts on various fields (e.g., human rights and minority rights, constitutional law, cultural heritage, economics).
The delegation of international organizations – it consists of high-ranking officials from the UN, OSCE, CoE and EU supported by a team of independent experts on various fields (e.g., international law, human rights and minority rights, security, cultural heritage, economics).
All delegations will need to nominate two spokespersons per delegation.
2.3. Rules and road map
The role-play is structured into three parts:
Part 1. Preparation
The tutor divides the participants into four teams and assigns them roles within their own teams (e.g., participant A will be a member of the delegation representing the government of Taagorland and will play the role of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Taagorland; participant B will be a member of the delegation representing the Arkodian minority and will play the role of a member of parliament; etc)
All participants will read the detailed information of the case regarding the historical background, the current context and the applicable legal framework (see sections 3-6 below).
Based on the detailed information provided, participants should work individually and collectively with their teammates on identifying the most salient issues (from the perspective of the delegation they belong to) and finding potential solutions. Note that participants are not allowed to invent new facts about the case (e.g., “A whistleblower sent our delegation a top-secret document which shows that the government is ready to accept negotiations about the autonomy of Osterdia if Taagorland is granted EU candidate status”).
Each delegation should draft a Position Statement (500-1000 words) containing political, legal, and institutional measures for addressing the grievances of minorities, improving inter-ethnic relations, and ensuring durable peace in Taagorland. The four delegations are free to decide the structure and format of the basic action plan outlined in their own Position Statement (e.g., use of bullet points, tables, figures).
Part 2. Presentations, Group Work and Debate
Ideally, this session should take place in a large room with a hollow square-style table arrangement. This will allow all participants to see one another and engage in the role-play. The indicated time limits are indicative. Tutors should adapt the time limits according to the duration of their seminar, training, or workshop.
The conference should be moderated by the two spokespersons from the delegation of international organizations. They should officially open the conference, by briefly introducing the role-play’s intended purpose, the spokespersons of the other delegations, as well as the procedural steps and rules. The conference consists of the following three sessions:
i) Presentations and Q&A Session
The delegations of the government, the Arkodian minority, the Keserian minority and the international organizations should present their Position Statement in this order. Each delegation has 10 minutes. The two spokespersons per delegation are free to do their presentation as they see fit (e.g., structuring the presentation, dividing their tasks regarding the presentation, using PowerPoint, handouts, or other communication tools). Each presentation is followed by a Q&A session of 10 minutes. The floor is open to all participants. Moderators should encourage participants to ask for clarifications regarding the content of the respective presentation.
ii) Consultation Session
After the presentations and Q&A sessions, moderators call for a consultation break of 10 minutes. The delegations should use this time to assess the ideas and proposals put forward, identify weak and strong points in the Position Statements, discuss alternative proposals for legislative and policy reform, solutions of compromise in accordance with principles of international law, etc.
iii) Plenary Session
The moderators (i.e., the two spokespersons of the delegation of international organizations) open the plenary session of 30 minutes. The information from all previous sessions serves as the base for debate and negotiation between the representatives of the government and minority groups under the umbrella of international organizations. This discussion spans a wide range of possible outcomes, for example, partial agreement on certain issues or a complete deadlock. Regardless of the outcome, the learning process, the group work, and the active engagement of all participants is what matters most.
Part 3. Debriefing
The tutor should engage the participants in a brief discussion regarding the content of the case, the process of role-playing, and the outcome of the role-play. Participants may be asked to fill in an evaluation form. Tutors should design their own evaluation form based on the most important aspects to be assessed.
3. Historical Background
1st century CE
Archeological evidence shows that Taagor people established several large settlements at the east of the Nakor Mountains, mostly in the fertile lowlands and along the coast of the Coral Sea. One of the main settlements is located in the area of today’s Seegraf, the capital of the Republic of Taagorland.
2nd – 5th century
Slow expansion of Taagor settlements towards the highlands and the Nakor Mountains range.
Start of Arkodian tribes’ migration towards fertile lands located west of Nakor Mountains. This region will be known among the Arkodian tribes as the Great Plains.
Chieftain Harken unites the loose confederation of Arkodian tribes and establishes the First Arkodian Kingdom on the Great Plains.
The Mongol invasion triggers the collapse of the first Arkodian Kingdom. Most of the Arkodian population migrate towards the Nakor Mountains to seek protection from invaders.
A new Arkodian confederation controls the highlands and lowlands on the east of Nakor Mountains from the Three Passes in the North, to the Coral Sea in the South and the Yellow River in the East. Arkodian settlers establish the port city of Tasik (see map 1).
Chieftain Erden establishes the Second Arkodian Kingdom with the capital at Vekor in the highlands east of Nakor Mountains. According to the Saga of Grey Wolves, King Erden I founded Vekor in the area of an ancient, abandoned settlement called Vegur.
10th –13th century
The progressive expansion of the Second Arkodian Kingdom continues under several rulers of the Erden dynasty. By the end of the 11th century, Arkodians reconquer the Great Plains on the western side of Nakor Mountains.
The large territory between the Yellow River on the east of the Nakor Mountains range and the Black River on the west becomes known as Erdia. According to the chronicle Gesta Arcodianum (“Deeds of the Arkodians”), in the mid-13th century, King Erden IV made his sons Urgun and Erun co-rulers and Lords of Westerdia and Osterdia. Lord Urgun ruled from the fortress of Melk on the Black River while Lord Erun controlled the lowlands and the port city of Tasik (see map 2).
The Arkodians repeatedly raid the territories east of the Yellow River. As a result, several Taagor city-states form a defensive alliance against Arkodian attacks. However, by the end of the 13th century, all Taagor city-states must pay tribute to Arkodian kings.
The chronicle of Gesta Arcodianum (“Deeds of the Arkodians”) reproduces the following letter sent to the Arkodian king by the Council of Taagor Earls: "To the Lord Erden by God's grace illustrious King of Arkodia, The suffering unleashed by your hand rends our hearts asunder. Behold the ruin and tears that stain our land. We beseech thee, cease this relentless assault upon our weary souls. Spare us from further tragedy, for in our unity lies the hope of redemption. We are not feeble lambs resigned to our fate, but stalwart souls, aflame with righteous defiance. Let mercy find harbor within your hardened heart and cast aside the cloak of tyranny. We entreat thee to heed this cry, to mend the wounds of our shared existence. May fate guide you toward a path of reconciliation, that we may find solace amidst the tempest of despair.”
The Gesta Arcodianum contains the first reference to the Keserians. It praises the efforts of Arkodian monks to Christianize the “heathen and treacherous Kesers”.
The Great Plague decimates most of the population of the Arkodian Kingdom. The Arkodian kings invite colonists from all over Europe to settle in his kingdom. Especially in the less fertile highlands of Erdia, and offer them incentives and privileges (e.g., exemption from the “salt tax”).
Seegraf becomes the most powerful Taagor city-state. With the help of Arkodian mercenaries, Lord Duan of Seegraf subdues all the surrounding city-states and establishes the Principality of Taagoria (see map 3). From the mid-16th century, princes of Taagoria become vassals of the Arkodian kings and are obliged to pay an annual tribute. Over time, more and more Arkodian noblemen acquire lands in the Principality of Taagoria.
17th – 18th century
Through its continuous expansion, the Kingdom of Arkodia becomes a multinational empire. Its imperial capital is moved from Vekor to Melk. The port city of Tasik prospers due to its strategic position on the Tor Strait along the main trading routes whereas Vekor experiences a decline.
At the beginning of the 18th century, the Principality of Taagoria is annexed by the Arkodian Empire. However, it preserves a certain level of legislative and administrative autonomy. (e.g., Taagoria maintains its own Diet and administrative organization, the Taagor Church remains an autonomous institution and confessional communities enjoy self-rule).
At the end of the 18th century, a decree of the Diet of Taagoria forbids Keserians from settling outside a certain area of the principality and forces them to abandon their traditional way of life.
The first expression of a developing Taagor national consciousness is a petition sent by the bishops of Taagoria to the Emperor asking to allow education in the Taagorian language not only in confessional schools but also in public schools.
The Arkodian Empire undergoes a comprehensive territorial-administrative reorganization. The autonomy of Taagoria is abolished and it is merged with Osterdia. Together, they form the new imperial province, Erdland. The port city of Tasik is chosen as the provincial capital (see map 4).
The imperial authorities start to implement Arkodianization policies in Erdland. Arkodian becomes the sole language of education, administration and justice, and foreign personal and place names are replaced with Arkodian names.
Ethnic Arkodians and Arkodian speakers from other parts of the Empire are encouraged to settle across the province as the state provides facilities for acquiring land and accessing jobs in public service and in developing industrial areas. By the end of the 19th century, the Arkodian language becomes lingua franca in the industrial heartland of the multiethnic imperial province.
In Seegraf, the Taagorian Church translate the Bible into the Keserian language and publishes the first Keserian grammar book and Taagorian-Keserian dictionary.
1901 – 1910
The Arkodian Empire fights against the Alliance of Free Republics in the Eight Years War (1901-1909). The decisive battles take place after the expeditionary force of the Alliance lands in Seegraf. With the help of Taagorian militias, the Alliance army conquers the entire imperial province Erdland. The Arkodian Emperor Erun VIII abdicates. The Empire faces a period of deep social and political unrest, and eventually collapses. Several successor states are established including both the Republic of Arkodia and the Republic of Taagorland. The Taagorian provisional government declares the “independence of the whole Taagorland within its natural borders, reaching from the shores of the Coral Sea to the summits of Nakor mountains, the cradle of our Nation.”
The Republic of Taagorland and the Republic of Arkodia sign the Seegraf Peace Treaty (1910), which, among others,
stipulates that Osterdia (90% Arkodian population) is part of the Republic of Taagorland. The Taagorian government pledges to grant the region “the highest degree of self-government compatible with the unity of the Republic of Taagorland.”
awards the Tor Islands (98% Arkodian population) to the Republic of Taagorland as war reparation but declares them a demilitarized and neutral area due to their strategic position in the Tor Strait.
stipulates that the Arkodian community in the Republic of Taagorland and the Taagorian community in the Republic of Arkodia shall enjoy “local autonomy in regard to scholastic and religious matters, subject to the control of the state.”
stipulates an exchange of population between the Republic of Taagorland and the Republic of Arkodia: 30,000 Arkodians from Taagorland are forced to resettle in Arkodia and 15,000 Taagorians living in Arkodia are forced to move to Taagorland.
recognizes full citizenship rights for the Keserian population within the Republic of Taagorland and the Republic of Arkodia.
1910 – 1959
The first Constitution of the Republic of Taagorland is adopted. Its preamble declares:
“We, the people of Taagorland, guided by the universally recognized principles that govern our modern world and acknowledging the inherent, indivisible, non-negotiable, and perpetual right of the Taagorian nation to self-determination and state sovereignty, hereby establish the Republic of Taagorland as the nation-state of the Taagorian people and the home for its diverse national minorities. In pursuit of liberty, equality, and unity, we strive to foster peace, stability, and harmony both within our borders and among the nations of the world.”
The 1910 Constitution proclaims Taagorland a “unitary and indivisible nation-state with an inalienable territory” and guarantees “the rights and freedoms of all citizens regardless of ethnicity, language, religion, or social class”. The Constitution divides the territory of the Republic of Taagorland into 18 cantons. Eight of them cover the historical region of Osterdia.
Taagorian is the state language and all official place names of Osterdia change. For example, the Arkodian names of Osterdia’s main cities are replaced by their Taagorian names: Vekor and Tasik become Veegor and Taashi respectively. The Taashi canton includes the Special Administrative District of the Tor Islands (see map 5).
The 1910 Constitution recognizes the right of members of the Arkodian minority to use their mother tongue in education and in relations with the local administration in those cantons with a majority Arkodian population. The Constitution contains no provision regarding Keserians except one article granting them full citizenship rights.
In 1911, the Arkodian People’s Party (APP) is established in Taashi. It gains its first seats in the National Assembly (Lantaag) following the 1912 general elections. The APP is a catch-all party claiming to represent the interests of the Arkodian minority and bringing together people of various ideological orientations. The APP is isolated in the Lantaag and the Arkodian political elites become increasingly frustrated by their limited possibilities to influence the decision-making process at the national level. The Keserian minority has no political representation in the Lantaag.
At the beginning of World War One, both the Republic of Taagorland and the Republic of Arkodia declare their neutrality. Both countries join the League of Nations after the war. In the 1920s-1930s, their bilateral relations remain tense but despite several border incidents, no large-scale conflict erupts.
The inter-war period sees civic organizations and trade unions organize several general strikes in Osterdia. In 1926, students at the University of Taashi establish “Justice for Osterdia”, an organization that collects 300,000 signatures in support of “self-determination of Osterdia's population”. The organization is banned two years later, after it publishes a manifesto calling for the redrawing of the border between Taagorland and Arkodia along nationality lines. The constitutional provisions on minority rights are not implemented properly. Public administration and judiciary function exclusively in the Taagorian language. In the eight cantons covering the historical region Osterdia, most ethnic Arkodian civil servants do not have sufficient knowledge of Taagorian and are replaced by ethnic Taagorians. Several schools and faculties of the University of Taashi with tuition in Arkodian are closed. For example, in 1938, Taagorian becomes the only language of instruction at the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Economics of the University of Taashi.
During World War Two, the Republic of Taagorland and the Republic of Arkodia remain neutral. In 1946, both countries become members of the United Nations (UN).
By the end of the 1940s, around 100,000 ethnic Arkodians leave the historical region Osterdia for the Republic of Arkodia. This is the result of both forced and voluntary migration. At the same time, an increasing number of ethnic Taagorians from the eastern part of Taagorland move to Osterdia: e.g., military and security personnel; timber and wood production workers and miners in the highlands; farmers in the lowlands; and industrial workers in the main cities Veegor (Vekor) and Taashi (Tasik).
During the 1950s, there are some positive developments in the field of education and culture for the Keserian minority. For example, several public schools start teaching Keserian as a separate subject. In addition, the University of Seegraf establishes a department for training Keserian language teachers. An increasing number of ethnographic, anthropologic, and sociologic studies focus on the Keserian culture and traditions. In 1956, the Museum of Keserian Art and Culture is established in Seegraf. Its permanent exhibition is dedicated to the ancient traditions, customs, and shamanic practices of the pre-Christian Keserians.
The Taagorian Army stages a coup d’état. General Muzeeng seizes power, abolishes the Constitution, imposes martial law, bans political parties and dissolves the Lantaag. The military junta changes the name of the country to People’s Republic of Taagorland.
Politicians, public intellectuals, trade union leaders belonging to both the majority population and minority communities are arrested. Numerous civic associations and newspapers are closed.
1961 – 1982
The People’s Republic of Taagorland is a closed country. The authoritarian regime maintains strict control of most aspects of public and private life with the help of the infamous state security service Secstaat.
The government bans the use of minority languages and implements Taagorization policies. The use of Taagorian, the official language of the state, is mandatory in both public and private spheres. The public administration and the judiciary function exclusively in the official language.
Taagorian is the sole language of instruction at all levels of education. No public or private schools or universities provide education in or teaching of Arkodian and Keserian languages. There is no media in minority languages.
The government launches the Internal Settlement Program providing Taagorian citizens strong economic incentives − e.g., tax exemptions, free-interest loans, land concessions − to move to the historical region of Osterdia. By the mid-1970s, ethnic proportions change dramatically, especially in the lowlands.
In 1976, a car bomb kills president Muzeeng during a military parade in Veegor (Vekor). A previously unknown organization calling itself the Arkodian Liberation Army (Arködezan Katorgh Armak – AKA) claims responsibility. Over the next decade, AKA carries out several attacks against military and security forces. The Special Directorate A of the Secstaat deals with “minority activism, irredentism and terrorism”. The government of the People’s Republic of Taagorland accuses the Republic of Arkodia of financing AKA, providing it weapons and training its militants.
1983 – 1987
In the early 1980s, the People’s Republic of Taagorland is internationally isolated and its economy is on the verge of collapse. The government is forced to adopt a first package of measures regarding economic reform and political liberalization. This process in turn creates societal pressure for democratization and sets the pace for the return of political pluralism.
Several political parties are reestablished (including the APP) and are allowed to participate in the general elections of 1986. The international monitoring mission declares the elections free and fair. The APP is the third largest party in the Lantaag.
In 1987, the AKA announces a “complete cessation of military operations” and pledges to start dismantling its paramilitary structures and decommissioning its weapons if Taagorland becomes a democratic country that respects the political, cultural and economic rights of the Arkodian community.
1988 – 1993
In 1998, the Constituent Assembly adopts the new Constitution of the Republic of Taagorland. It is approved in a national referendum despite the opposition of the APP which strongly criticizes several constitutional provisions regarding, among others, the fundamental characteristics of the state (Article 1), the official language (Article 3) and the ban of ethnic parties (Article 19) (see section 5 below).
The 1998 Constitution brings a number of changes to the territorial-administrative structure of the country. The territory of Taagorland is divided into 25 cantons out of which two are the newly established city-cantons of Seegraf and Taashi. The two city-cantons are carved out of larger old cantons established in 1910. Now the territory of the historical region of Osterdia is divided into nine cantons (i.e., eight regular cantons plus the city-canton of Taashi). The Taashi city-canton includes also the “autonomous district of Tor Islands” that enjoys a certain level of administrative autonomy.
As the Constitution bans ethnic parties, the APP is dissolved. Its leadership register a new political party called the Equality and Freedom Party (EFP). The statute of the EFP declares that it is an independent political organization open to all citizens of the Republic of Taagorland and that its values are based on the principles of mutual appreciation and respect between the Taagorian majority and the national minorities living in the country. The statute emphasizes that the main aim of the EFP is to contribute to the development of social conditions that allow each citizen to freely embrace, preserve and nurture their ethnic, cultural, and religious identity. Among the specific goals listed in the party statute are the following: “the free use of minority languages in private and public life, including in the administration and the judiciary; the establishment and development of separate minority institutional systems in the realms of education and culture; the autonomy of local public administrations and local communities based on the principles of self-government and devolution of powers.”
In 1993, the Republic of Taagorland joins the Council of Europe (CoE) and the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The EFP introduces in the Lantaag a draft “Law on the Individual and Collective Rights of National Minorities”. The Taagorian parliament rejects this legislative proposal without debate because “[it] is based on concepts such as ‘collective rights’ and ‘ethnic autonomy’ which are not recognized by the Taagorian legal system.”
1994 – 2000
In 1994, the Republic of Taagorland and the Republic of Arkodia sign a Treaty on Good Neighborhood, Friendly Relations and Cooperation which deals, among others, with the issue of the Arkodian minority in Taagorland and the Taagorian minority in Arkodia.
The bilateral treaty refers to Recommendation 1201/1993 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe but the treaty’s annex contains the following note introduced at the request of the Taagorian government: “The contracting parties agree that Recommendation 1201/1993 does not refer to collective rights and does not impose upon them the obligation to grant to individuals belonging to national minorities any right to a special status of territorial autonomy based on ethnic criteria.” Article 20 of the treaty stipulates that "the existing border between the contracting parties is inviolable, therefore they shall refrain from any demand or action aimed at the seizure and usurpation of a part of each other’s territory”. Article 23 provides for the establishment of two joint inter-governmental commissions: the first body oversees minority issues while the second deals with the maritime delimitation of the continental shelf and exclusive economic zones of the two countries.
In 1998, the Republic of Taagorland signs and ratifies the CoE’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) and submits its application for EU membership.
A working group of legal experts, civil society representatives, and politicians belonging to the Arkodian minority prepare and submit to the Lantaag a draft “Law on Local and Regional Self-Governments and Cultural Autonomy”. All members of parliament from the EFP fully support the legislative proposal during the parliamentary debates, but the Taagorian parliament rejects it by a large majority. Six months later the Lantaag adopts the Law on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National Minorities (hereinafter “1999 Minority Rights Law”), and the Law on the State Language (hereinafter “1999 State Language Law”) (see section 5 below). The parliamentary group of the EFP boycotts the vote on these two laws. Four ethnic Keserian members of parliament elected from the lists of mainstream Taagorian parties criticize several provisions of the 1999 State Language Law which they deem restrictive and contrary to international standards.
The Taagorian government announces the discovery of potentially significant oil and gas deposits around the Tor Islands. The government of the Republic of Arkodia expresses concerns regarding the lack of progress in the negotiations between Taagorland and Arkodia regarding the maritime delimitation of the continental shelf and their exclusive economic zones.
In 2000, a large group of ethnic Arkodian intellectuals launch the National Proclamation on Autonomy in Veegor (Vekor):
“Our nation falls apart if we lose sight of our national objectives, if we are unable to represent our community, and we give up our last fortresses. (…) We call upon our people, church, party, and civic organizations to join forces for the assertion of our interests and rights. We are nearly the only people in Europe that has no right to self-determination (...) Autonomy should be in our sights constantly and we should fight for it. Not with guns but with arguments, not in the streets with Molotov cocktails but in the Lantaag with the instruments provided by the law. Let us have a common objective: the fight for our autonomy so that we can have a home in our homeland!”
2001 – 2007
In 2001, the EFP adopts a new political program that includes concepts such as “asymmetric regionalism”, “region with special status” and “financial and political autonomy”. At the same time, the party publishes a white paper entitled “Charting our Common Future: A Package for Constitutional Reform” and a draft “Constitutional Law on the special autonomous status of Upper Osterdia and the Tor Islands”. The white paper proposes several substantial constitutional amendments such as defining Taagorland a “multiethnic and multicultural state”, declaring both Taagorian and Arkodian as official languages, establishing a system of asymmetric regionalism, and removing the constitutional ban on ethnic parties.
In 2003, the EFP organizes an unofficial referendum for autonomy in the highlands of the historical region Osterdia. The Vekor Times, the main Arkodian language newspaper in the country, reports that “90% of those eligible to vote did so and 99% of the voters were in favor of autonomy.” The Taagorian prime minister declares in an interview for the public broadcaster that the latest EFP’s actions clearly violate the Constitution and represent a serious threat to the stability, political unity, and territorial integrity of the state.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopts Resolution 1634 (2005) on the Keserian minority culture in Taagorland. It emphasizes the “centuries-old history of the Keserian people”, expresses concern about “the endangered status of the Keserian minority culture”, and encourages the Republic of Taagorland to support the use of the Keserian language in education, administration, media etc, and to preserve the “unique features of the Keserian culture and traditions.” A group of Keserian intellectuals, politicians and activists establish the Keserian People’s Alliance (KPA), a cultural and political umbrella organization that gathers more than 20 associations.
The KPA calls on the Taagorian government to officially recognize Keserians as indigenous peoples and grant them their specific rights, in accordance with the relevant instruments of the United Nations. The minister of culture expresses the government’s willingness to start a dialogue on this issue with the Keserian civil society and proposes the establishment of the Keserian Roundtable, a working group consisting of civil servants, minority activists, and independent experts. The main task of the working group is to produce a comprehensive report on Keserians with a detailed set of policy recommendations.
The EFP is politically isolated and inter-ethnic relations deteriorate rapidly. Nationalist media campaigns contribute to increasing ethnic polarization. Delegations from the CoE, the OSCE, and the EU visit regularly Taagorland and meet with the government and minority political leaders. Before the 2008 elections, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities urges “dialogue and compromise” emphasizing that the “upsurge in ethnic tension is a wake-up call for the country and political elites to do more to rebuild trust across ethnic dividing lines.”
Tensions are high during the election campaign. In Veegor (Vekor), security forces clash with protesters burning the Taagorian flag and chanting “Osterdia is not Taagorland!”. Several EFP leaders are sued for “defamation of the country” and “instigation to ethnic hatred”; most of them are barred from standing as candidates. Security forces arrest a group of students from the University of Veegor who painted graffiti and wrote the slogan “No taxation without representation!” in Arkodian and Taagorian languages on several governmental buildings. They are charged with vandalism for intentional and malicious damage to public property and sentenced to two months in prison. A few days later, several high-ranking public officials receive threatening letters with a bullet inside and the message: “Ballot or gun? Our battle’s begun!”.
2009 – 2016
AKA resumes its campaign of violence. During the so-called Night of Fires, AKA militants detonate improvised explosive devices in several locations across the historical region Osterdia. In the next years, AKA’s bombing campaign targets security forces, state symbols (e.g., administrative buildings, monuments) as well as economic and industrial infrastructure (e.g., power plants, mining companies). In response, the central government significantly increases its military presence and operations within the cantons of Osterdia. In the period 2009-2016, the number of security forces deployed in the region doubles.
In 2012, the Lantaag adopts an anti-terrorism framework law (hereinafter “2012 Anti-Terrorism Law”), which raises concerns among human rights activists and experts of international organizations. The 2016 Human Rights Watch report on the Republic of Taagorland criticizes the lack of an independent police complaints mechanism and calls for an independent investigation on the alleged torture and maltreatment of prisoners accused of being AKA militants.
The increasing tensions and the global economic crisis have a strong negative impact on the local economy. According to public opinion polls, the “control over the natural resources of the highlands and Sor Strait” is one of the top five concerns of ethnic Arkodians living in the nine cantons of the historical region Osterdia. In addition, 68% of the population of these cantons believe that they contribute much more money to the state budget than the government allocates them.
The EFP splits over the decision to boycott the 2016 elections. Several prominent members of the more radical wing leave the party and launch a new political organization. However, the Appeal Court of Veegor rejects the application for the registration of the new party on procedural grounds. The party’s founders attack the decision as politically motivated and announce their intention to lodge a complaint before the European Court of Human Rights.
2017 – 2023
In early 2017, the EFP congress approves a programmatic document called the Self-Determination Manifesto. It proclaims that Arkodians living in the Republic of Taagorland are “an ancient nation which has a historic right to self-determination” and calls for the transformation of the Republic of Taagorland into a federal state comprising two nationlands: Taagoria and Osterdia. The Federal Republic of Taagorland shall have a bi-cameral parliament with the Senate representing the interests of the nationlands. According to the Self-Determination Manifesto, the federal government shall hold exclusive powers in areas such as foreign affairs, defense, immigration, and currency matters. All powers not specifically granted by the Constitution to the federal level shall belong to the two nationlands. A system of fiscal federalism shall regulate the financial relations between the federation and the nationlands (e.g., taxation powers, revenue sharing, autonomy of expenditure).
The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affects members of the Keserian communities across the country. Their situation is particularly difficult as they already experience poverty, discrimination and poor access to healthcare and education.
In 2022, the government announces the intention to submit to the Lantaag a proposal for constitutional reform and a territorial-administrative re-organization of the country in four new regions (see map 6).
The government argues that such larger administrative units (in terms of territory and population) have a better institutional capacity to attract EU funding (to strengthen economic, social, and territorial cohesion) and to deliver public services to citizens. Ethnic Arkodian political elites and civil society strongly reject the plan accusing the government of overt gerrymandering since ethnic Arkodians would represent less than 50% of the population in all new regions.
The Veegor Court of First Instance suspends The Vekor Times for six months. The chief editor of the newspaper is charged with “spreading false information”, “defamation of the country” and “instigation to ethnic hatred”.
The EFP denounces the government’s initiative as a “plan for denationalization rather than regionalization” and calls for a general strike and civil disobedience against “this brazen attempt to set back the country’s process of democratization and stabilization”. Security forces arrest several EFP leaders for alleged links with AKA. The prime minister accuses the EFP of being the political wing of AKA. Based on the 2012 Anti-Terrorism Law, the Prosecutor General asks the Supreme Court to ban the party for supporting a terrorist organization. The Prosecutor General argues that “speeches and actions by party leaders have proved that the Equality and Freedom Party has become a focal point of activities against the sovereignty of the state and indivisible unity of the country and the nation.”
The international community urges all parties to find solutions to the ongoing crisis through dialogue, negotiations, and compromise. The UN, the OSCE, the CoE, and the EU convene the "Conference for Peace and Reconciliation in Taagorland” which aims to address the major issues and grievances that led to the conflict.
3.2. Nation-building, history and myths
The Arkodian - Taagorian relations are illustrative of the use of history as a powerful tool for state-sponsored nationalism and ethnic mobilization. The processes of nation-building and identity construction have shaped the socio-political system of the Republic of Taagorland and its society. Since the 19th century, the neighboring Republic of Taagorland and Republic of Arkodia have witnessed heated historiographical debates. Both countries claim to own the truth and dismiss the arguments of the other as myths.
The Republic of Taagorland and the Republic of Arkodia share intertwined and disputed histories starting from one fundamental question: Who were the first inhabitants of the territory between the Nakor mountains and the Yellow River? Both Taagorians and Arkodians consider the historical region Erdia (see Map 2) to be the cradle of their respective civilizations.
On the one hand, Taagorian historians argue that Taagor tribes already inhabited the area in the 1st century and point out that the Arkodians built their capital Vekor in the 10th century on the site of an ancient settlement called Vegur (as the Saga of Grey Wolves recounts). Taagorian linguists back this theory arguing that the word veeg (fortress in Modern Taagorian language) descends from the word vegur, a proto-Taagorian word meaning stronghold. On the other hand, according to the Arkodian historiography, the first Taagors arrived in the highlands of Osterdia in the 14th century. They settled in that area at the invitation of the Arkodians kings after the Great Plague decimated the local Arkodian population. While the Taagorian historiography presents the nation-building process as a centuries-old struggle against Arkodian oppressors, Arkodian historians claim that the expansion of the Arkodian kingdom and later empire had a certain positive impact in this part of Europe in terms of arts, culture, philosophy, science and law.
There are also opposing views regarding several historical personalities. For instance, the Arkodian king Erden VI who defeated the Huraz army at the gates of Rome is praised by Arkodian historians as the savior of Christian Europe, while the Taagorian history books portray him as a bloodthirsty ruthless tyrant who executed thousands of his Taagor subjects who could not pay the taxes they owed to the crown. Taking another example, the Taagorian romantic poet Vaarlom Deko, who in the 19th century assassinated the Arkodian imperial governor of Erdland, is celebrated as a national hero in the Republic of Tagorland, while the Arkodian history books describe him as a mentally ill anarchist.
It is worth noting that several military and religious leaders (and even two Arkodian kings) have been born into mixed Arkodian-Taagor families. Both historiographies tend to appropriate most of these military and religious leaders as exclusive national heroes.
4. Territories, Populations, Languages
4.1. Republic of Taagorland
Figure 1. Flag of the Republic of Taagorland
Taagorland has a territory of 100,000 m² that is divided into 25 cantons. Nine of them cover the historical region of Osterdia. The two main metropolitan areas Seegraf and Taashi/Tasik form two distinct city-cantons. The Taashi city-canton includes the autonomous district of the Tor Islands. However, the National Statistics Institute of the Republic of Taagorland provides distinct demographic and socio-economic data for the autonomous district.
Taagorland has a population of 10 million inhabitants. According to the 2021 census, there are three ethnic groups in the country: the Taagors (73%), the Arkodians (22%), and the Keserians (5%). The languages of the three ethnic groups of Tagorland are mutually unintelligible. Language is one of the most significant identity markers for each of the groups. Taagorian and Arkodian use the same alphabet, but the Keserian language has some unique features. Keserians call themselves Xešzerý and their mother tongue is Xešzerø. In the state language, they are called Keesher and their language is Keeshuria in accordance with the spelling and grammar rules of the Taagorian language. The alphabet of the Keserian language contains several special letters (e.g., Ȃ ȃ, Ø ø, Š š, Ý ý) that do not exist in the Taagorian and Arkodian alphabets. All personal names in ID documents are written according to the spelling and rules of the Taagorian language.
Map 7 shows the ethnic distribution of the population as recorded by the 2022 census:
Ethnic proportion in the main cities:
Seegraf (1,5 million inhabitants): 87% Taagorians, 10% Arkodians, 3% Keserians.
Taashi/Tasik (1 million inhabitants): 70% Taagorians, 24% Arkodians, 6% Keserians.
Veegor/ Vekor (250,000 inhabitants): 80% Arkodians, 9% Taagorians, 1% Keserians
4.2. Arkodian minority
Figure 2. Flag of the Arkodian minority
There are 2,2 million Arkodians living in the Republic of Taagorland. 87.5% of them (1,925,000 persons) are concentrated in the historical region of Osterdia, which covers nine cantons of the country. Osterdia has a population of around 4 million inhabitants: 1 million in the city-canton Taashi/Tasik + 2,8 million in the other eight cantons + 200,000 inhabitants of the autonomous district of the Tor Islands.
Table 1. Arkodian minority in Taagorland
|Republic of Taagorland||Arkodian minority||Additional information|
|In Osterdia||Cantons of the Highlands||1,295,000||74% out of the 1,750,000 inhabitants of the Highlands. In Veegor/Vekor, there are 200,000 Arkodians (meaning 80% out of the 250,000 inhabitants of the city).|
|Cantons of the Lowlands||300,000||An enclave between the coast and the Yellow River and smaller communities of less than 20% Arkodian population.|
|Taashi/Tasik||240,000||24% out of 1 million inhabitants of the city-canton.|
|Tor Islands||90,000||45% out of 200,000 inhabitants of the autonomous district.|
|Sub-total in Osterdia||1,925,000|
|Outside Osterdia||Seegraf||150,000||10% out of 1,5 million inhabitants of the city-canton/capital.|
|Other cantons||125,000||Small communities of less than 5% Arkodian population.|
|Sub-total outside Osterdia||275,000|
4.3. Keserian minority
Figure 3. Flag of the Keserian minority
There are half a million Keserians living in the Republic of Taagorland. The minority is territorially dispersed across the country. Municipalities with the highest percentage of Keserian population are located outside Osterdia.
Table 2. Keserian minority in Taagorland
|Republic of Taagorland||Keserian minority||Additional information|
|In Osterdia||Cantons of the Highlands||35,000||2% out of 1,750,000 inhabitants of the Highlands.|
|Cantons of the Lowlands||94,000||Small communities of less than 20% Keserian population.|
|Taashi/Tasik||40,000||4% out of 1 million inhabitants of the city-canton.|
|Tor Islands||6,000||3% out of 200,000 inhabitants of the autonomous district.|
|Sub-total in Osterdia||175,000|
|Outside Osterdia||Seegraf||45,000||3% out of 1,5 million inhabitants of the city-canton/capital.|
|Other cantons||280,000||In several rural areas, Keserians are 20-30% of the population (see map 7).|
|Sub-total outside Osterdia||325,000|
4.4. Republic of Arkodia
Figure 4. Flag of the Republic of Arkodia
The Republic of Arkodia is the kin-state of the Arkodian minority in Taagorland. According to the 2011 census, 10,000 ethnic Taagorians and 8,000 ethnic Keserians live in Arkodia. Most of the small Taagorian and Keserian communities are concentrated along the Northern border between the Republics of Taagorland and Arkodia. The Taagorian and Keserian ethnic groups are officially recognized as national minorities in Arkodia. They enjoy cultural autonomy, and their National Councils are dealing with matters such education, culture and media.
5. Legal Framework and Political System
The Republic of Taagorland has ratified all the UN and European legally binding instruments on human rights and minority rights including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM), and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML).
5.1. Constitution of the Republic of Taagorland
Constitutional Act, 1988 (excerpts):
We, the members of the Taagorian nation, proud of our historical, cultural, and spiritual heritage, and mindful of the centuries old struggle for national existence and our own statehood, commit to promoting and safeguarding our unique language and culture and to respecting the freedom and culture of national minorities and other nations in the world for a lasting peaceful co-existence and cooperation.
Article 1. The Republic
(1) The Republic of Taagorland is a unitary, indivisible, democratic, and sovereign nation-state governed by the rule of law.
Article 3. Official language
(1) Taagorian is the official language of the state.
(2) The use of other languages in the public sphere shall be regulated by special law.
Article 7. Equality and Non-Discrimination
(1) All citizens of the Republic of Taagorland are equal before the law and their fundamental rights and freedoms are guaranteed.
(2) Any discrimination based on ethnicity, language, race, sex, religion, political or other beliefs, national or social origin shall be prohibited by law.
(3) Defamation of the country and the nation, instigation to national, racial, class or religious hatred, and any incitement to discrimination, territorial separatism, or public violence shall be prohibited by law.
Article 19. Political Pluralism
(1) Political activity in the Republic of Taagorland follows the principle of political pluralism. The procedure regarding the establishment and dissolution of political parties and the conditions pertaining to their activity shall be established by law.
(2) The programs of political parties shall not be inconsistent with the unity and integrity of state and nation, human rights, and national sovereignty.
(3) The Supreme Court shall give a final ruling on the dissolution of political parties on an application by the Chief Prosecutor.
(4) Political parties based on ethnic or regional criteria shall be prohibited by law.
Article 27. Minority Rights
(1) The state recognizes the right of persons belonging to national minorities to preserve and develop their own ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious identity.
(2) The state guarantees the right of persons belonging to national minorities
a) to learn their mother tongue, and their right to be educated in this language as well as to develop their own culture together with other members of the minority group.
b) to set up and maintain minority educational and cultural institutions including media organizations as well as other minority associations.
c) to use their mother tongue, orally and written, in relations with the local public administration in the cantons where citizens belonging to a national minority reach the 25% threshold.
d) to use their mother tongue before the courts, under the terms laid down in the special law;
e) to participate in public affairs and to be consulted on issues concerning national minorities.
5.2. Law on Political Parties
Law no. 15/1988 on Political Parties (excerpts):
Article 13. No political party shall bear the name of an ethnicity or region, or a name including any of the above words or similar ones.
Article 20. The constitution, program, and activities of political parties may not contravene the Constitution or the present law.
Article 22. Political parties shall not aim, strive, or incite third parties to:
a) change the principle of the unitary and indivisible nation-state on which the Republic of Taagorland is founded, nor carry out activities in pursuit of such an aim.
b) change the constitutional provisions concerning the integrity of the State’s territory, the unity of its nation, its official language, its flag, or its national anthem.
c) jeopardize the existence of the state, abolish fundamental rights and freedoms, introduce discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, language, race, religion or establish, by any means, a system of government based on any such notion or concept.
Article 43. The Supreme Court shall dissolve a political party in case:
a) its program and/or constitution and/or activities are contrary to the present law;
b) its leadership takes a decision, issues a document, or makes a public statement contrary to the present law;
c) it has become a center of activities contrary to the Constitution.
5.3. Law on the Rights of National Minorities
Law no. 22/1999 on the Rights of National Minorities (excerpts):
Article 1. (1) The Republic of Taagorland undertakes to respect and protect the rights of national minorities as one of the highest values enshrined in its own Constitution and in international law.
(2) Any discrimination based on ethnicity, language, race, or religion shall be prohibited. The members of national minorities shall be guaranteed equality before the law and equal legal protection.
Article 2. A national minority within the terms of the present law shall be considered a group of citizens who have traditionally inhabited the territory of Taagorland, who have ethnic, linguistic, cultural, and/ or religious characteristics that differ from the rest of the population, and who are motivated to preserve these characteristics.
Article 5. (1) The Republic of Taagorland shall ensure the exercise of the rights of members of national minorities enjoyed individually or jointly with other members of their minority, in particular regarding:
a) the use of their language in private and public spheres;
b) education in their language;
c) the use of their symbols;
d) practicing their religion and establishing their autonomous religious communities together with other members of the same religion;
e) access to the media and public information services in their language;
f) self-organization and association in pursuance of their common interests;
g) representation in the elected and administrative bodies and participation in public life;
h) protection from any measures jeopardizing or potentially jeopardizing their continued existence and the exercise of their rights and freedoms.
Article 9. (1) In the territorial-administrative units where the proportion of the citizens belonging to a national minority is above 25% of the population, citizens belonging to national minorities may also communicate, orally or in writing, in their mother tongue in their relations with the authorities and staff of the local public administration and they shall be answered both in Taagorian and the mother tongue.
(2) Under the provisions of paragraph (1), persons who know minority languages shall be employed by local public administration for duties involving public relations.
(3) Under the provisions of paragraph (1), the authorities of the local public administration shall ensure the display of the names of localities and public institutions within their authority, as well as the posting of notices of public interest in the mother tongue of the citizens belonging to the respective minority. (…)
(5) The proceedings of the municipal and cantonal council meetings are conducted in Taagorian, the official language of the state. In the municipal and cantonal councils where at least half of the total number of counselors belong to a national minority, they may use their mother tongue during the council meetings and a simultaneous translation into the state language shall be provided. In all cases, the documents of the council meetings shall be drafted in Taagorian. (…)
(7) Members of national minorities shall have the right to use their surnames and forenames in official documents, in accordance with the current specific regulations of Taagorland.
Article 10. (1) Members of national minorities shall have the right to study in or learn their mother tongue at all levels, types, and forms of education, under the conditions prescribed by the special law on education.
(2) Students being educated in the language of a national minority shall have the right and obligation to study and learn the official language of the state according to law.
(3) Teachers in schools with instruction in the language of a national minority shall be members of that national minority and fully proficient in the respective minority language.
(4) Members of national minorities may for the purposes of minority education establish private education institutions under the conditions stipulated by law.
5.4. Law on the State Language
Law no 35/1999 on the State Language (excerpts):
Article 1. (1) The Taagorian language shall be the state language in the territory of the Republic of Taagorland.
(2) The state language shall have priority over other languages used in the territory of Taagorland. This law does not regulate the use of the languages of national minorities.
(3) This present law shall apply to central and local authorities, other bodies of public administration, legal persons, persons employed in the transport, postal and telecommunication services, health and social services, members of police and armed forces, self-employed natural persons and private individuals (hereinafter “stakeholders”) to the extent and under the conditions set forth herein.
Article 2. (1) The stakeholders shall use the state language in their official communication. This provision shall be applied without prejudice to the use of the languages of national minorities in official communication pursuant to Law no. 22 /1999 on the Rights of National Minorities.
(2) The state language shall be:
a) the language of laws, government ordinances, and other generally binding regulations, including those issued by the cantonal authorities and municipal administration, as well as the language of decisions and other public documents;
b) the language of business, reports, financial and technical documents of all institutions, offices, enterprises, and organizations that function in the Republic of Taagorland;
c) the language of all official records such as birth registers, protocols, resolutions, statistics, registers, information for the public. Every citizen of Taagorland shall have the right to modify free of charge his/her surname and forename according to Taagorian orthography.
Article 3. (1) The work of the central and local authorities and other bodies of public administration is conducted in Taagorian, the official language of the state. In cantons and municipalities with a significant national minority population, the state authorities may use the language of the national minority, under the conditions prescribed by Law no. 22 /1999 on the Rights of National Minorities.
(2) The names of municipalities and streets as well as other geographical names and information contained in the official maps shall be presented in the state language. The denomination of municipalities and streets and other local geographical designations in the languages of national minorities is governed by Law no. 22 /1999 on the Rights of National Minorities.
(3) Legal proceedings in the Republic of Taagorland shall be conducted in the state language. Participants in the legal proceedings, who do not know the state language, shall be provided with the services of an interpreter free of charge.
Article 4. (1) The teaching of the state language shall be mandatory in all primary and secondary schools. A language other than the state language may be used as the language of instruction and testing under the conditions stipulated by the special law on education.
(2) The teaching and administrative staff in all schools and school establishments in the territory of the Republic of Taagorland, except for foreign teachers and lecturers, must have a good command of the state language and use the state language in oral and written communication.
(3) The entire pedagogical documentation and other documentation in the schools and school institutions shall be kept in the state language. In the schools and school institutions providing education in the language of national minorities, the entire pedagogical documentation shall be kept bilingual, in the state language and language of the respective national minority. (…)
Article 6. (1) The broadcast of the television and radio service in the territory of the Republic of Taagorland shall be in the state language, except for the broadcast of television programs in another language with subtitles in the state language and radio programs in the languages of national minorities;
(2) Booklets, catalogs, and programs of cultural events and institutions such as art galleries, museums, libraries, cinemas, and theatres shall be published in the state language. When such booklets, catalogs, and programs are published in a minority language, they must also contain an identical version in the state language. (…)
Article 8. (1) All documents and written communication with legal effect in the employment or a similar working relationship shall be drafted in the state language.
(2) The financial and technical documentation and bylaws of associations, societies, political parties, political movements, and companies shall be submitted/maintained in the state language.
(3) The administrative paperwork of healthcare facilities and facilities for social services shall be maintained in the state language. The personnel are not obliged to speak the languages of national minorities. (…)
Article 16. (1) The enforcement of the present law shall be controlled by the State Language Commission, which is accountable to the Lantaag of the Republic of Taagorland.
(2) When the State Language Commission establishes that a stakeholder is in breach of the present law, it issues a written notice asking the respective stakeholder to comply with the law within a set time limit. If the stakeholder fails to do so, the State Language Commission shall impose a fine of 300 to 15000 Taagorian Pounds (approx. 100 to 5000 Euro) on the respective stakeholder.
5.5. Political system of the Republic of Taagorland
Taagorland is a parliamentary republic with a unicameral legislative body called the Lantaag (National Assembly) consisting of 300 MPs who are each elected for a four-year term. Taagorland has a proportional representation (PR) electoral system with closed lists. Political parties must obtain a minimum of 4% of the national vote to enter the Lantaag. Ethnic parties are forbidden by the Constitution.
Results of the last parliamentary elections:
National Progress Party (NPP) is center-right and has 130 deputies.
Social Agreement Party (SAP) is center-left and has 90 deputies.
Equality and Freedom Party (EFP) represents the interests of the Arkodian minority and has 65 deputies.
Green Party (GP) has 15 deputies.
The Young Democrats Party (YDP) is a small centrist party that supports inter alia the rights of Keserians and collaborates with their umbrella organization, the Keserian People’s Alliance. It is not represented in the Lantaag.
Currently, the Republic of Taagorland is ruled by a national unity government backed by the two main political parties, the NPP and the SAP.
6. Economy and Socio-Economic Indicators
Taagorland is undergoing a difficult economic transition. Its government is heavily dependent on revenues stemming from lead deposits that are based mainly in Osterdia. The heavy metal extraction attracts international investors, leading to a gradual inflow of the workforce into the mining sector. A plan of the government to open more lead mines in Osterdia was vehemently opposed by environmentalists and minority representatives of the region.
Over the last two decades, the mining industry left behind deserted areas and polluted and infertile soils, which had negative consequences for the flora and fauna, bringing higher disease risks to the Arkodians and destroying their traditional cultural landscapes. Arkodians feel the impact of environmental degradation, rising prices and other negative by-products of the mining sector. They demand control of the natural resources or the power to levy a special tax, to ensure they also share in the gains from mining.
Even though the recent discovery of oil around the Tor Islands is expected to boost Taagorland´s economy, the inhabitants of the archipelago fear that offshore oil drilling will have a negative impact on their major revenue source, which is tourism. Meanwhile, the oil discovery has intensified a bilateral dispute between Arkodia and Taagorland around the delimitation of exclusive economic zones.
Agriculture, fisheries, and small business enterprise remain basic employment opportunities, but these are the sectors that, overall, suffered disproportionately during the recent global economic downturn and the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, Taagorland’s fishing industry is impacted to a large degree by international fishery laws that restrict its activity.
Economic challenges and the unequal distribution of natural resources have exacerbated socio-economic disparities in Taagorland. The coastal regions, whose economy is driven by the fisheries, as well as the agricultural center, are not meeting their economic potential and suffer from unemployment. Unlike Osterdia, which is the most prosperous region besides the city-cantons of Seegraf and Taashi/Tasik. The regional inequalities are reflected in different socio-economic well-being of the three ethnic groups (see figures and table below).
Socio-economic indicators by ethnic group
Figure 5. Average monthly income per capita (2021)
Figure 6. Share of people living below the national poverty line (2021)
Figure 7. Unemployment rate (2021)
Table 3. Child mortality, literacy rate, average time spent in education, life expectancy (2021)
Age < 5 years
(1 - 1000)
Age > 10 years
Average time spent in education
Source: National Statistics Institute of the Republic of Taagorland
7. Outstanding Issues
Please note that this is a non-exhaustive list:
Constitution(s), constitutional reform and regionalization plan proposed by the government.
Claim for recognition of Kerserians as indigenous peoples.
State Language Law and its impact on the use of minority languages
The population threshold (25%) for the use of minority languages
Uniqueness of the Keserian language
Higher education in Arkodia
Education for the Keserian minority
Systemic discrimination of Keserians
Socio-economic situation of national minorities
Natural resources and environmental impact
Representation of national minorities
Constitution and the legal-institutional framework
8. Relevant International Documents
Please note that this is a non-exhaustive list. All these international documents are available online:
Council of Europe (CoE)
European Convention on Human Rights (1950)
Recommendation 1201 (1993) “Additional protocol on the rights of national minorities to the European Convention on Human Rights” adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly (1993)
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (1992)
Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (1995)
Guidelines on prohibition and dissolution of political parties and analogous measures adopted by the Venice Commission (1999)
Resolution 1334 (2003) “Positive experiences of autonomous regions as a source of inspiration for conflict resolution in Europe” adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly (2003) and the report of rapporteur Andreas Gross
Recommendation 1735 (2006) “The concept of ‘nation’” adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly (2006) and the report of rapporteur György Frunda
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension (1990)
The Hague Recommendations Regarding the Education Rights of National Minorities (1996)
The Oslo Recommendations regarding the Linguistic Rights of National Minorities (1998)
The Lund Recommendations on the Effective Participation of National Minorities in Public Life (1999)
Recommendations on Policing in Multi-Ethnic Societies (2006)
The Bolzano/Bozen Recommendations on National Minorities in Inter-State Relations (2008)
Ljubljana Guidelines on Integration of Diverse Societies (2012)
The Tallinn Guidelines on National Minorities and the Media in the Digital Age (2019)
European Union (EU)
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000)
Council Directive 2000/43/EC implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin (2000)
Council Directive 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation (2000)
United Nations (UN)
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)
Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (1992)
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007)
European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)
Case-law dealing with cultural rights, equality and non-discrimination, participation
List of abbreviations
AKA – Arkodian Liberation Army (Arködezan Katorgh Armak)
APP – Arkodian People’s Party
CoE – Council of Europe
ECHR – European Convention on Human Rights
ECRML – European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
EFP – Equality and Freedom Party
EU – European Union
FCNM – Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
GP – Green Party
HCNM – High Commissioner on National Minorities
ICCPR – International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
ICESCR – International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
KPA – Keserian People’s Alliance
NPP – National Progress Party
OSCE – Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe
SAP – Social Agreement Party
UN – United Nations
YDP – Young Democrats Party
About the authors
Sergiu Constantin is a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Minority Rights of Eurac Research. He holds a law degree from the University of Bucharest (Romania) and a Master in European Studies from the University of Graz (Austria). His research projects deal with diversity governance focusing mainly on language rights, political participation and territorial/cultural autonomy arrangements in Europe and beyond. He has published several papers, articles and book chapters on these topics. His most recent publications are included in the volumes Litigating the Rights of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples in Domestic and International Courts (edited by B. De Villiers, J. Marko, F. Palermo and S. Constantin, Brill, 2021) and Human and Minority Rights Protection by Multiple Diversity Governance. History, Law, Ideology and Politics in European Perspective (edited by J. Marko and S. Constantin, Routledge, 2019). His most recent consultancy activities regard projects undertaken by the Council of Europe and the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities in Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova.
Several researchers from the Institute for Minority Rights at Eurac Research have provided valuable comments on earlier drafts of this role-play. Many thanks to Alessandra Stefanut for preparing the maps and to Elise Desroches for proofreading the language.
 A unitary state is a country where governing power is concentrated at the central level. The central government holds significant control over decision- and policy-making. Regional or local governments exercise powers delegated to them by the central government. Unitary states can be centralized or decentralized, depending on the extent of powers and resources delegated to regional or local governments. Some unitary states established autonomous entities, which have more powers than other territorial-administrative units because of geographical or cultural reasons (e.g., Aland Islands in Finland, Greenland in Denmark, Vojvodina in Serbia).
 The home state of a minority group is the country where members of the respective minority live whereas their kin-state is the country with whom they have a shared culture and history. In other words, culturally diverse communities are, at the same time, national, ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities in their home state and kin minorities from the perspective of their kin-states. External kin communities may be, in fact, kin majorities at the regional level in their home states (e.g., Serbians in Bosnia and Herzegovina) or even at the national level (e.g., Albanians in Kosovo).
 As a general orientation, participants may consult a non-exhaustive list of salient issues in section 7 and a non-exhaustive list of useful international documents in section 8 below.
 The Recommendation 1201/1993 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe contains the proposal for an additional protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, concerning persons belonging to national minorities. According to Article 11 of the proposed protocol, “[i]n the regions where they are in a majority the persons belonging to a national minority shall have the right to have at their disposal appropriate local or autonomous authorities or to have a special status, matching the specific historical and territorial situation and in accordance with the domestic legislation of the state.” Furthermore, Article 12 specifies that “[n]othing in this protocol may be construed as limiting or restricting an individual right of persons belonging to a national minority or a collective right of a national minority embodied in the legislation of the contracting state or in an international agreement to which that state is a party.”. For details, see https://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/Xref-XML2HTML-en.asp?fileid=15235 (accessed May 10, 2023)
 A white paper is a document that is designed to thoroughly examine a particular issue, stance, or challenge. Its purpose is to assist readers in comprehending the issue at hand, resolving the problem, or making informed decisions. Unlike a research paper that primarily presents facts, analyses and findings, a white paper seeks to capture the readers' attention and encourage them to take a stance.