FUEN: The Framework Convention should not move away from the original aim of protecting national minorities

- Press releases

A FUEN delegation led by President Loránt Vincze attend the launching conference of the Fourth Thematic Commentary on the Scope of Application of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM), held at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, on 11th October 2016, during the autumn session of the Parliamentary Assembly. The FUEN delegation consists of Gösta Toft (Vice President), Frank de Boer (legal advisor), Jens A. Christiansen (spokesperson of the FUEN European Dialogue Forum) and Tanja Novotni-Golubić (Member of the FUEN European Dialogue Forum).

After the Advisory Committee on the FCNM presented its newest thematic commentary on the interpretation of the Framework Convention, FUEN President Loránt Vincze took the floor and addressed the audience. Mr Vincze expressed his appreciation for the work of the Advisory Committee and the opportunity given to FUEN to participate in the drafting process, and voiced FUEN’s support towards most of the findings in the Thematic Commentary, nevertheless outlining some problematic elements.

According to the President: “The FUEN notices that – rightfully – the Convention has been interpreted as a »living instrument«, allowing for the recognition of rights in a changing environment in the member states. However, when reading the Commentary, one gets the impression that the focus has shifted from the original aim of the protection of national minorities. (...) We are concerned with this development, since it shifts the focus away from maintaining the minorities’ identity, their way of life and the survival and development of their community. Traditional minorities still face assimilation pressure and demographic decline, which makes their situation special and this needs to be addressed not only as a matter of diversity, but also as a fundamental right.”

While the FUEN President praised the Advisory Committee for their consistent criticism on arbitrary distinctions made by the State Parties concerning the application of the Framework Convention, he also stated that not any kind of group should fall under the protection of the FCNM in the same way as the Thematic Commentary might suggest.

“We agree that arbitrary distinctions are wrong, but we are of the opinion that these criteria (length of residency, citizenship, territoriality and numbers) do matter. You cannot equate the situation of a newly arrived migrant group with the demands of people that have developed their community over a period of centuries, often long before the establishment of modern states caused them to become national minorities.”

Regarding specific issues, President Vincze expressed FUEN’s concern about the Advisory Committee’s negative view on parallel education systems, regarded as a source of division between different communities of a society rather than a safe environment for students to receive good quality education in their mother tongue, the most important element of self-preservation of minority languages and cultures. “The protection of national minorities and the creation of inclusive society is a task for all of us. Majorities cannot sit down and expect integration only from the minorities; the society as a whole has to work hard to become inclusive. Thus, the participation of minorities in decision-making processes is crucial.” – concluded Mr Loránt Vincze, President of the FUEN.

Oral contribution by FUEN President Loránt Vincze

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