According to some sources there are around 5,000 national minority groups living in the contemporary world, and about 3,000 linguistic groups. However, this is probably a discretionary assessment as it seems that there are no exact figures with respect to the number and size of minority groups. The existing estimates are usually based on different and sometimes not very clear criteria and mostly take into account those groups and numbers which are the result of the individual choice of a person and are not based exclusively on the objective differences. Notwithstanding this, a brief calculation would indicate that in Western Europe 14. 7% of the total population belongs to minority groups, and the same percentage exists in the Central and Eastern European region - 14. 7%, whereas in the countries belonging to the Commonwealth of Independent States this percentage is slightly higher - at 18. 9%. Throughout the history of the European continent minorities have had a significant impact on political stability and security. Currently, most of the situations of internal tension as well as conflicts, whether internal or international, involve inter-ethnic relations. Thus the international community at large and - for the European minorities more importantly - the European institutions have placed minority issues high on their 'agenda.
Publisher: T.M.C. Asser Press