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FUEN President at the EU Regional Forum: the EU should cooperate with the CoE in developing a framework for minority protection

“Global and regional attempts to codify national minority rights have typically gained momentum when the international community had to respond to a conflict or when it has perceived that conflict could arise somewhere. This was the case of Europe of the 1990s, but since then, no major steps were made in this area” – said FUEN President MEP Loránt Vincze on Wednesday at the European Regional Forum on conflict prevention and the protection of the human right of minorities. This year, the forum, to which the FUEN President was invited as an expert, was held online due tot he restricitons caused by the pandemic. The event was organised by UN Special Rapporteur Ferndand de Varennes and the Tom Lantos Institute.

Loránt Vincze pointed out that the general trend in Europe today is to minimize as much as possible the importance of issues on to the rights of national and linguistic minorities – even during a time when talk about democratic norms and principles are in the forefront. “One could think that with the decades-long process of European integration we are already at a stage when we do not look at societies as monocultural blocks, but understand them in their historically shaped diversity. The fact, however is that in practice, minorities are still treated as deviations from the normativity of the states in which they live. This also means that these institutions are extremely careful not to offend the perceived national interest of member state parties. Here I insist on the word "perceived" because I am convinced that the true self-interest of any state is to treat all its citizens equally”, he added.

The FUEN President  made these concrete recommendations to the Forum:

  1. Based on its core founding values, and building upon the internationally recognized best practices in a number of its Member States as well as its experience with the fulfilment of the accession criteria related to the respect for the rights of minorities prior and after accession, the European Union should develop a robust common protection framework of the rights of national and linguistic minorities with common principles and standards. The framework should be fully incorporated in its rule of law monitoring exercise and be accompanied by regular monitoring and the issuance of recommendations. This minority protection framework should be used as a basic reference tool in its foreign and security policy as well as its accession and neighbourhood policy, supporting its aim to solve and prevent conflicts, preserve peace and develop and consolidate democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights in the world.

 

  1. The leadership of the Council of Europe should invest more political effort in promoting and strengthening the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages, especially by regularly referring to the two documents, by actively encouraging its Member States to sign and ratify them, investigating the ways in which compliance with the two instruments could be increased, updating its reporting practices and encouraging State Parties t o use them in domestic political processes, such as when designing policies or drafting legislation.

 

  1. Building on the achievements and experience of the Council of Europe in the area of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, the European Union should initiate and engage in a mutually reinforcing cooperation with the Council of Europe in the area of protecting the rights of national and linguistic minorities in the interest of conflict prevention and the promoting respect of the rights of minorities.

 

  1. The European Union should also take into account aspects covering the rights of minorities when developing legislation and manifest more openness towards input from national and linguistic minorities, such as the Minority SafePack European Citizens' Initiative;

 

  1. The European Union should develop a robust policy of countering hate speech against minority groups, including at sports events, in the mass media and a regulation on the functioning of social platforms.

COMMUNIQUÉ DE PRESSE