- January 23, 2018
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe calls for the protection of the rights of national minorities
On January 23, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a draft resolution by a majority of votes. The draft resolution was prepared by the Hungarian MP Rózsa Hoffmann and states that regional or minority languages ensure personal and social identity of national minorities.
The adopted resolution stresses that the protection of regional and minority languages is to be an essential part of the policy towards national minorities in order to ensure human dignity, fundamental rights and cultural diversity. The document underlines that these objectives are provided by the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
The resolution regrets that out of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe only 25 countries have ratified the Charter and eight have signed it, moreover not all countries that have ratified the Charter submit reports and conduct full monitoring regularly.
The adopted resolution calls on the member states of the Council of Europe to:
- ratify the Charter and refrain from actions that contradict the demands of the Charter, regardless of whether the state is or is not a signatory to the Charter;
- ensure the use of regional and minority languages in all areas of life and, where possible, establish these languages as state languages in regions where these languages are traditionally used, taking into account the historic traditions of the region;
- ensure that people can learn in their native language at all levels of education (beginner, intermediate, vocational and higher) in this case, if the child’s family wants it;
- ensure that speakers in regional or minority languages receive enough knowledge to ensure equal opportunities with the majority when taking examinations and admission to university;
- ensure qualitative teacher education in regional or minority languages, issue a sufficient number of textbooks;
- ensure that educational reforms do not have a negative impact on teaching in regional or minority languages;
- permit communities that speak in regional or minority languages to independently run educational institutions according to their own education system;
- ensure that public officials can offer services in regional or minority languages;
- encourage local governments to use regional or minority languages in their activities;
- provide inscriptions of names of places in regional or minority languages;
- provide media financing appearing in regional or minority languages;
- encourage communities speaking in regional or minority languages to cultural self-fulfillment.
Participating in the proceedings of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Rita Tamašunienė, the starost of the parliamentary fraction of EAPL–CFA and the Lithuanian representative in PACE, stressed that there were few voters against the progressive resolution. Thus, the majority of PACE members were in favor of protecting regional and minority languages.
“The first international system of the protection of the rights of national minorities was created after the First World War, but after one hundred years this topic is still valid. National minorities are in all countries, but because of a lack of political willingness, prejudices and unjustified fears there is a problem with granting them more rights. I am glad that the Parliamentary Assembly deals with very important issues of the rights of national minorities, the use of the mother tongue, the cultivation of culture, the right of having own education and the media” – commented Rita Tamašunienė. She highlighted that in the opinion of the majority of PACE member countries, it is necessary to protect minorities and cultural diversity, as well as to share good experience (Hungary, Switzerland, Denmark and others). “The new resolution is another step forward, it’s a progress and encouragement for all countries to follow good examples and ratified the European Charter for regional or minority languages. In our modern, multicultural communities there needs to be a compatible cooperation between people of different nationalities living in one country” – said the deputy of EAPL–CFA.
“During the discussion of the Parliamentary Assembly, attention was also paid to the fact that the resolution is not against the national identity of states, but to guarantee citizens’ rights which is also a guarantee of stability, security and peace” – said Rita Tamašunienė, the starost of the parliamentary fraction of EAPL–CFA and the Lithuanian representative in PACE.
Translated by Katarzyna Kądziołka within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.