The European Language Equality Network’s (ELEN) General Assembly in Cagliari has officially called on Italy to ratify the Council of Europe’s European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) in the presence of the UN, Council of Europe, the EU, and called for comprehensive support for Sardinian language recovery.
The ECRML, the Treaty that works to safeguard European minoritised languages, was signed in 1998 by Italy but not ratified. ELEN, the international NGO that works to promote and protect European lesser-used languages, used its annual meeting to call on Italy to ratify the Charter. It was also the first time that an ELEN General Assembly has taken place in Italy with delegates representing 174 organisations and 50 languages in 25 EU states.
The call for Charter ratification was made by the ELEN President Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones and ELEN Secretary-General Davyth Hicks, in the presence of the UN Special Rapporteur for Minorities Dr. Fernand de Varennes, Prof. Jarmo Lainio from the Council of Europe ECRML Committee of Experts, Anna Solé Mena from the EU Commission, and Italian Senator Elena Testor.
The General Assembly was preceded by a welcome reception organised by Assòtziu Babel at the Rinascente building in Cagliari’s city centre. At the event, after a presentation by the Linguapax organisation, there was the official launch of My Culture+ – the first video on demand Netflix-style platform dedicated to minority language film and TV.
Panels discussing current issues
The Assembly was hosted by the Babel Film Festival, and took place on Saturday 7th October in the splendid setting of the Palazzo Regio with the festival’s Director Tore Cubeddu opening proceedings. Several panels took to the stage starting with a plenary speech by Prof. Colin Williams from Cardiff and Cambridge Universities entitled “A Witness to Transformative Revitalisation”. The first panel focused on the recovery of the Sardinian language, with experts from Wales, Catalonia, and Sardinia, with a second panel dealing with the recognition of Catalan, Galician and Basque as EU official languages.
Discussions also focused on the wide range of activities conducted by ELEN on behalf of its members over the past year, the situation of territorial languages in France, with contributions by NGO delegates from Brittany, Alsace, Occitania, North Catalonia and the Basque Country. Another discussion topic was the future of the Catalan language in Alghero.
A range of resolutions submitted by member organisations were voted on:
1) Kontseilua called for ELEN’s support for the demo on November 4th in Bilbao where Kontseilua are planning to rally Basque society in response to ongoing legal attacks that are having the effect of undermining Basque language use.
2) Conradh na Gaeilge called on ELEN to support their new language growth plan – An Plean Fáis: Plean Infheistíochta don Ghaeilge agus don Ghaeltacht, 2024-2029.
3) The Council of Armans called on ELEN to support their document on inclusion of the Armans on the ECRML and FCNM in the Balkan states.
4) The joint Kevre Breizh, Institute for Occitan Studies, Culture et Bilinguisme d’Álsace et de Moselle, La Bressola, called on ELEN to support their call for a French response to the ELEN appeal to the UN HRC on France, to implement the Molac law for RMLs, modify the constitution so that it protects RMLs, and to ratify the ECRML.
5) Plataforma per la Llengua: ELEN to call on the government to take measures to ensure the right for schoolchildren to learn and to be educated in Catalan in Alghero.
6) Kowethas An Yeth Kernewek called on ELEN to support Cornish being moved up from Part 2 to Part 3 on the ECRML.
7) ELEN resolution: Call on Italy to ratify the ECRML.
8) ELEN resolution: ELEN calls upon the City Council of l’Alguer/Alghero and the Region of Sardinia to assume their respective responsibilities to respect, protect and promote the Catalan language in l’Alguer/Alghero and to establish the Office for the Catalan Language with a dedicated budget to employ personnel and support projects in order to implement the Strategic Plan for the Catalan Languages that was adopted in 2011.
All resolutions were voted on and passed unanimously.
The afternoon continued with an official welcome to new ELEN members the University of Warsaw, the University of Poznań, the Centre for Sámi Studies at Nord University, the European Centre for Minority Issues, and the Irish NGO Glór na Móna.
The Assembly closed its proceedings with presentations on various topics from the Welsh Government, University of the Highlands and Islands, University of Warsaw, Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, and Chambra d’Oc. (Eurolang 2023)