Loránt Vincze at the OSCE seminar: The loyalty of minority communities needs to be earned

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“Implementing the adequate legislative framework at state level and sharing good practices in good faith should be enough to prevent ethnic conflicts. Unfortunately the everyday reality in many European states is the opposite of the willingness to consider best practices and the lack of a good legislation for minority protection” – stated Loránt Vincze on Wednesday at a seminar organised by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The event took place in Berlin.  

The FUEN President was asked to talk about the situation of minorities in Europe at the seminar entitled Addressing potential ethnic conflicts through law and good practices organised during the German and Austrian presidency as part of the evaluation period. At the event organised at the Academy of the German Foreign Office Loránt Vincze held a speech following the opening and welcome speeches of the President and Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly and the key note speech of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities.

Loránt Vincze reminded that the beginning of the ’90s brought significant changes in Europe which lead to the peaking of ethnic conflicts and was in the former Yugoslavia. This was the moment when the OSCE acknowledged that in the interest of long lasting peace on the continent the prevention of ethnic conflicts in paramount, and thus the office of the High Commissioner on National Minorities and the conflict prevention mechanism were created. The instruments of the Council of Europe, The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities were also created during this period, and the European Union drafted the Copenhagen Criteria, that dealt with the establishment of minority protection laws in the candidate states. „Only narrow-mindedness would make us believe that these instruments and mechanisms are sufficient to prevent ethnic conflicts in the present” – pointed out the president of the FUEN, reminding that there are severe shortcomings in the area of minority protection in some states such as Greece and France where autochthonous national minorities are not recognized, in Bulgaria, where the registering of ethnic parties is prevented by law or in Ukraine or Latvia where the right to education in the mother tongue is curtailed by newly adopted laws.

Romania, the country where I come from, states that it is a model country for minority rights while refusing to have a dialogue on collective rights. Extremism and hate speech are on the rise and recent polls show that a large part of the Romanian majority sees the Hungarian minority as a threat. Romania is becoming a role model in denying dialogue and cooperation” – stated Loránt Vincze on the situation in his own country.

In his speech he talked about loyalty, and how the states and the majority communities demand loyalty from the minority communities. He said that beyond respecting the laws and the constitution of the country, the state can only expect minorities to be loyal once it guarantees education in the mother tongue and the preservation of the culture and identity of minorities living within its borders. „Loyalty cannot be enforced, it is not an obligation. Loyalty has to be earned. Only respected and cherished minority communities can be loyal, in the emotional sense, to the state that they live in” – stated the president of the FUEN.

During the creation of the European Union states could not and would not agree upon minority rights. As a result, 50 million people, European citizens belonging to an autochthonous national minority were left without an adequate protection for their cultural and linguistic identity – explained Loránt Vincze adding that in the opinion of the FUEN, the EU, as a supranational entity ought to act as guardian of nationalities and ethnicities. The differences in minority protection legislation between the different parts of the continent need to be balanced, because if we belong to the same European space, minority groups with similar situations should enjoy the same chance for the protection of their cultural and linguistic identities, he argued pointing out that the Minority SafePack European Citizen’s Initiative serves this exact purpose, and the minority-majority pact was created with the same goal in mind. The FUEN President suggested that the OSCE launch a common project to assess and evaluate minority protection practices in the different states.

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