• June 1, 2012
  • 248

MIDAS CONFERENCE IN BRATISLAVA

Fot. „Új Szó”

XII Conference of European Association of Daily Newspapers in Minority and Regional Languages MIDAS – of which Kurier Wileński has been an associated member since 2005 – took place from 24th to 26th of May in Bratislava; for a second time the special guest has been Új Szó (New Word), the daily newspaper of Hunagrian minority in Slovakia.

As Edita Slezáková, the president of Új Szó, remarked at the beginning, during the first conference in Bratislava Hungarians in Slovakia had needed support before the 2002 elections; over the course of the decade the world has changed and the problems are different as well – and they concern all ethnic minorities. Therefore the leading theme of this year’s conference was the financial crisis and how ethnic minorities coped with it. This was the topic of the opening speech by of the conference, presented by Toni Ebner, the president of MIDAS and editor-in-chief of a daily newspaper of German minority in South Tyrol.

‘Recession should not lead to depression. We have visited the printing office of Új Szó and seen that the daily newspaper of an ethnic minority can be among the most modern in Europe,’ said Toni Ebner who also stressed how essential the support of the country is for the press of ethnic minorities, particularly the daily newspapers.

The issue of interethnic relationships was also addressed. Kalman Petocz, former UN ambassador of Slovakia spoke about a relationship between the rights of minorities and human rights, as well as the problems in Hungarian-Slovakian relationships, such as a ban on speaking Hungarian in Slovakian schools (about 25 per cent of Hungarian children attend Slovakian schools). He also stressed the need to reform the education system so as not to promote intolerance, as well as the need to establish a Minority Council in Slovakia. The fundamental principle the council would be avoiding the conflicts between minorities by focusing on the issues of one minority at a time, while others would be forbidden to vote against it.

Peter Hunčik, former advisor of Czech president Vaclav Havel, also spoke about Slovakian-Hunagrian relations; among anti-Hungarian undertakings he mentioned the bill of national language, anti-Hungarian attitude of many bishops in Slovakian Catholic Church, and administrative division preventing Hungarians from becoming a majority in any area.

‘Many legal bills, though not directly discriminating, make life more difficult and cause discomfort for minorities, thus prompting them to assimilate,’ said  Peter Hunčik in conclusion to his speech.

The second part of the conference was devoted to discussing the situation of minorities in countries which newspapers being the members of MIDAS hail from, as well as the ways of supporting the ethnic minority press in respective countries: in Slovakia, Scandinavian countries, and Italy. The need to pass an EU directive forcing the member countries to support the minority press – particularly the dailies – has been stressed, along with the need to form Multilingualism Agency next to the Council of Europe.

During the conference of members and the management of MIDAS two resolutions have been passed, regarding the worsening situation of Lusitanian Sorbs in Germany and the Catalonians on Balearic Islands. During a special ceremony Maria Vrabec from  Új Szó has received the MIDAS award and Constance Lensch from The Guardian has received Otto von Habsburg Award.

The contents of the resolution and the profiles of the recipients of the awards will be published in upcoming issues of Kurier Wileński.

HUNGARIANS IN SLOVAKIA

The population of Slovakia numbers 5,3 mln people, 12 per cent of which is comprised of ethnic minorities. Hungarian minority numbering 460 thousand people makes up 8,5 per cent of the country’s overall population. The biggest largest periodical of Hungarian minority is Új Szó, a daily newspaper selling 35 thousand copies. “Petit Press,” the publisher of  Új Szó, also publishes newspapers and magazines in Hungarian and Slovakian. The classes in the schools belonging to the Hungarian minority are conducted in Hungarian.

http://kurierwilenski.lt/2012/06/01/zjazd-midas-w-bratyslawie/

Tłumaczenie Andrzej Rola w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Andrzej Rola within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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