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Council of Europe requests Romania to protect the minority languages

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has released on Thursday its recommendations to Romania on the application of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and an experts’ report evaluating Romania’s compliance with its commitments, a communiqué issued by the Strasbourg organization informs.

The Committee of Ministers says the Romanian authorities should reconsider the thresholds for using the minority languages as official language in administration, with priority. Currently, the minority languages may be used in relation to administration only when the minority in the administrative unit is above 20% of the overall population. This threshold is of one third in terms of local counsellors, so that the minorities’ languages are used in local sittings, capital.ro informs.

Furthermore, the Committee recommends the Romanian authorities, also with priority, to ensure the training of a sufficient number of teachers to enforce the commitments in the field of education for the Bulgarian, Czech, Croat, German, Hungarian, Romani, Russian, Serbian, Slovakian, Turkish and Ukrainian languages, to elaborate comprehensive educational models to teach in and from the Tatar and Turkish languages, in cooperation with these languages’ representatives, but also to continue the development of a comprehensive offer for teaching of Romani, given the necessities and the wishes of its speakers.

In the report, the experts in minority languages say the Romanian authorities filed their second periodical report after five years since the committee’s first report in 2012. The experts regret that the delay and lack of updated information have prevented the current assessment of the minorities’ languages situation in Romania.

The report reads that Romania has a long standing tradition in promoting the minorities’ languages, with examples of good practices regarding the teaching in several languages, a wide offer of private radio and TV stations in Hungarian, educational opportunities for Romani speakers in secondary and university education and the involvement of the national minorities in policy making.

The report also admits that, in general, the education system in Romania guarantees a high degree of support for minority languages. Romania adopted in 2011 an education law which provides a minimum number of pupils for the tuition in minority languages at various levels. Nevertheless, the Experts Committee expresses regret for not receiving any information regarding the practical implementation of the law, so they can assess the application.

Finally, the report salutes the fact that for most of minority languages there is a surprising large offer of cultural activities, calling for a series of improvements in regard to using the minority languages in justice and economic life, the communiqué from the Council of Europe reads.

About Valeriu Lazar