Friday was all about the Frisians at the FUEN Congress 2018

- Press releases

One of the roles of FUEN’s annual Congress is to present the local reality to the participants and this is the reason why it travels each year to a new minority region. It was not any different in Leeuwarden/Ljouwert: for Friday the local organisers prepared a whole day of programmes about Fryslân for the 230 delegates and guests coming from more than 30 countries.

During the official congress programme participants learned about the history of Fryslân, the Frisians and their beautiful language.

In her welcome speech regional Minister responsible for Frisian Language and Culture, Sietske Poepjes told the Conference, the Netherlands were one of the first countries to ratify the European Charter of Regional or Minority Languages. Although a lot was gained as a result of the ratification, some needs are yet to be met, for example vocational training in Frisian is missing. „The Minority SafePack Initiative turning into policy is not going to happen by itself. Together we can show the EU how important this issue is to us”, said Sietske Poepjes in her quality as Chairman of the Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity (NPLD).

Director of Leeuwarden/Ljouwert European Capital of Culture 2018, Oeds Westerhof described the yearlong programme with the word Mienskip, which translates roughly as working together, which in his opinion resulted in the most bottom up ECoC ever organised. In numbers this means that more than 5% of the inhabitants of Leeuwarden/Ljouwert participate actively in the program. They organise more than 400 events throughout 2018, with an overwhelming public interest for them: 75% of the tickets for the events planned for this year are already sold.

Important Frisian cultural and linguistic organisations and institutions like the Lan fân Taal project on multilingualism, the Dingtiid Official Organisation for Frisian Language and Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning also introduced themselves and their projects. Frisian institutions Taalsintrum Fryslân, the Council of the Frisian Movement and the broadcasting company Omrop Fryslân were also presented.

Language equality was one of the main topics of the day, as practical approaches for enforcing minority languages were discussed, focusing on the use of the Frisian language in education from kindergarden to university with the participation of Goffe Jensma, Director of Multilingualism and Minorities at the University of Groningen, Joana Duarte, researcher on multilingualism and education at the Fryske Akademy and Alexander Riemersma, lector for Frisian and Multilingualism at the Stenden University. We learnt that the concept of trilingual schools, where pupils learn in Dutch, Frisian and English from an early age, has very promising results.

After the official programme the participants were invited to a cultural visit by Ried fan de Fryske Beweging in Leeuwarden/Ljouwert, getting in touch with the inventive ways Lan fân Taal presents the languages of the world, climbing to the top of the famous leaning tower Oldehove, the symbol of the city or visiting the Fries Museum. The Frisian day of the FUEN Congress was closed in style with a traditional dinner in the province.


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