Minority rights: A comprehensive European protection framework is needed

2019. 05. 06.

Press release of MEP Lívia Járóka

Today Lívia Járóka, Vice-President of the European Parliament made an opening speech at the European Regional Forum on Education, Language and Human Rights of Minorities, a conference organised at the premises of the European Parliament by the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues and the Tom Lantos Institute. In her welcoming speech, Vice-President Járóka highlighted the rights granted by the Lisbon Treaty and the Charter, and outlined that even though the Lisbon Treaty entered into force 10 years ago, yet there is still a lack of a common comprehensive framework for the protection of national and linguistic minorities.

She has emphasized the Parliament’s recent resolutions in the field and the work of the Intergroup for Traditional Minorities, National Communities and Languages, which is one of the most active intergroups of the European Parliament, brought on the table the pressing issues, and exchanged best practices. MEP Járóka recalled the declaration of the Minority Intergroup which is calling for a comprehensive and common European protection and monitoring system for autochthonous national and linguistic minorities, a European Commissioner responsible for autochthonous national and linguistic minorities and a consultative body of the European Parliament in matters of national and linguistic minorities.

In her speech, MEP Járóka has also talked about the process of narrowing minority rights by restricting the use of minority and regional languages, including the strict new law mandating the use of the Ukrainian language in public places, businesses, the media, education and a range of other institutions, thus restricting the use of the minority languages just to the private sphere of life. “We have to send a strong signal that if the Ukraine takes its intentions and ambition on European integration seriously, than it should respect the rights of every citizen, should treat everyone equally and must fulfil its international obligations.” She has also referred to the recent developments in Târgu Mureș in Romania, where Roma settlements are being bulldozed down during the Romanian presidency.

“National and linguistic minorities are an essential part of the European diversity. The motto of the EU “United in diversity” makes it our duty to step forward and make real changes for the national and linguistic minorities. We need more initiative, like the Minority Safepack and we have to fight discrepancies between research, policy and practice,” added MEP Járóka. “Legislation is one side of the story. However, without implementation the law remains weak. For this, we need the willingness of the Member States to act and implement. Finally, we also need the citizens, the minorities themselves to access and use their rights,” concluded MEP Járóka.

Background: The United Nations Forum on Minority Issues was established by the Human Rights Council and is a unique platform for promoting dialogue and cooperation on issues pertaining to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities. Every year, hundreds of participants from all regions, including Member States, National Human Rights Institutions, NGOs, academics, experts and representatives of minorities attend this important gathering. Today’s Forum was one of the three regional forums organised together with the Tom Lantos Institute.