Fernand de Varennes invites FUEN to collaborate with his office on minority issues

- Press releases

“The cause of minority protection is not entirely won yet, which is why FUEN’s Minority SafePack Initiative is a useful and necessary contribution in new thinking and approaches, especially from a grass roots approach”, said UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Prof. Dr. Fernand de Varennes addressing the 63rd Congress of the Federal Union of European Nationalities on the 21 June in Leeuwarden/Ljouwert. Mr. de Varennes expressed his appreciation saying that the support of the 1.3 million Europeans is an outstanding effort and result for the Minority Safepack Initiative.

“This sort of innovative approach is something to be proud of and perhaps an inspiration for others. I would like to congratulate you on this success – and encourage you to continue to make sure progress follows since this is the first major step towards an eventual EU legislative framework”, said Varennes.

Talking about the last 20-30 years’ success in tackling national minorities problems he appreciated that incredible progress has been made, a number of internationally accepted frameworks, charters, declarations, protocols and guidelines, yet implementation still remains too weak, and even the gains made are threatened.

In a surprising number of countries, including some in Europe, governments are adopting laws and policies that restrict access to education, health and administrative services in minority languages. In some places the rights are increasingly restricted, bilingual signs are not allowed in certain minority languages. “The law doesn’t always appear to protect everyone in the same way – and often, too often certain minorities are more likely to be ignored or unprotected”, he added.

De Varennes considers that minorities and the members of majority communities should work together for achieving the dream expressed by FUEN President Vincze, where minority communities are equal, respected and cherished.

“That is why I would like to take this opportunity to ask you, to invite you to consider future collaboration with my mandate”, said Varennes, and added that two of his priorities for the coming years are education rights and minority languages, and how to oppose hate speech and rising intolerance in social media which targets minorities.

Fernand de Varennes‘ keynote speech was followed by a roundtable discussion moderated by Johann Hägmann, with the participation of Johannes Callsen, Minority Commissioner of Schleswig-Holstein, MEP Pál Csáky, Hungarian from Slovakia and Anna Magyar, Member of the Council of Europe Congress on Local and Regional authorities. They discussed the new opportunities in the European minority protection including the best practices and the developments in the EP and the CoE.

The last panel of the day, entitled ”From Kolozsvár to Leeuwarden”, moderated by FUEN Vice President, Bernard Ziesch was an opportunity for the Member Organisations to present their activity in the last year and the situation of the autochthonous minorities.

The panels were followed by the meetings of the German, Slavic, Turkish, Non Kin-State and Education Working Groups of the FUEN and the European Dialogue Forum’s meeting.


Key Topics

  • Political Participation
  • Fundamental Rights
  • Linguistic Diversity
  • Solidarity with the Roma
  • European Citizens' Initiative
  • European Network
  • Forum of the European Minorities / House of Minorities


More photos at Flickr