ELEN are set to work with Valencian Parliament and the Council of Europe’s congress of regional governments to promote regional and minoritised language usage and rights following a successful meeting on Friday (June 9th) that the organization held with the Parliament President Enric Morera. The President called on ELEN to work with him and the Council of Europe’s CLRAE to help autonomous governments work more effectively to protect and promote minoritised languages. The meeting was followed by a reception in the Palace.
On Friday evening invited guests including NGOs, government ministers, politicians, and trade unions, attended a presentation of the Donostia Protocol to ensure language rights held at the Octubre Cultural Centre and hosted by Acció Cultural del País Valencià (ACPV). The presentation was given by ELEN Vice-President Paul Bilbao-Sarria (Kontseilua) with short introductions on the ELEN organisation by Ferran Suay (ELEN President) and Davyth Hicks (ELEN Secretary-General).
On Saturday morning ELEN held the first of its public meeting sessions where stakeholders are invited to speak to the network and associates about their work. Marina Albiol MEP opened the session discussing her work in the Parliament dealing with minoritised language discrimination. She commented that: “It is outrageous and humiliating that institutions which supposedly defend European values such as harmony, brotherhood and respect between cultures and nationalities, prohibit the use of the language of my country.”
To highlight the absurdity of the lack of action by the EU on the issue of protecting minoritised languages, Ms Albiol added that: “I wonder what would happen if Rosa Parks had to appeal to European authorities asking them to act against those who didn’t allow her to sit in the front row of the bus, would they turn a blind eye? We fear that they would from the experience we have when we present abuses and violations of basic rights in Parliament.”
Prof. Rafael Castelló (Director of the Lingüístic Policies Services, Universitat de València) spoke about the progress made with language equality measures at Valencia University followed by Mr Fernando Padilla (Director-General Language Policies of Asturies) who described ongoing measures to ensure Asturian revitalisation
In an open session, Mr Sixto Molina, the Head of Secretariat for the Council of Europe’s Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML), updated delegates on developments with the Charter and events planned for its 25th anniversary in the autumn. ELEN initiatives in Italy were also discussed regarding Italian ratification of the Charter, and on Charter implementation in Romania.
The closed Steering Committee meeting continued for the rest of the day dealing with ELEN business and a range of topics including: the ELEN Recommendations for new EU level measures for lesser-used languages, forthcoming hearings in the European Parliament’s LIBE and CULT Committees, the ELEN partnership with the Valencian Government, updates on the Donostia Protocol, dealing with the Brexit effect on the Celtic languages, the situation in Catalonia and Galicia, French elections and ‘regional’ languages, the Irish language act campaign, and Hungarian public sector provision in Transylvania.
The ELEN General Assembly will be held in Valencia in November 2017.
ELEN is the Europe-wide NGO for regional and minoritised languages comprising 150 member organizations representing 44 languages in 22 European states. (ELEN2017)
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