Language communities ignored in new Italian Fundamental Law

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Fri Feb 25 21:38:55 UTC 2005

Language communities ignored in new Italian Fundamental Law
Udin 2/25/2005 , by Max Mauro

The Friuli-Venezia Giulia region approved a new Fundamental Law in early
February which does not give minority groups the attention they deserve
and even creates discrimination among language communities. This is
according to comments this week from the 482 Committee, which gathers
together the most important cultural associations of Fril (Friuli),
following the recent approval of the new Act by the Regional Council.

In April 2004 Eurolang reported that the Regional Council of
Friuli-Venezia Giulia had started working on rewriting its Fundamental
Law, promulgated in 1963. A body of experts from the different language
communities living in the region, Friulan, Slovene and German, were
invited to contribute to the text.

Alessandro Tesini, president of the Council, then interviewed by Eurolang,
declared that linguistic rights should have been high on the agenda: The
new Fundamental Law has to recognize linguistic communities and to
recognize the linguistic and cultural pluralism of the region, he said.

According to the members of the 482 Committee, that include organizations
like Societt Filologjiche Furlane and Istitt Ladin-Furlan, along with
magazines like La Patrie dal Fril and the Italian-Slovene weekly Novi
Matajur, these promises have not been followed by any concrete measures.

Our demands have not been fulfilled, writes the Committee in a public
letter sent out to the press and to regional institutions. With the
rewriting of the Fundamental Law this Region had the chance to make a
great step forward in the field of linguistic rights, but this has not

We often listen [to] official statements about the crucial value for this
region and its autonomy of the different language communities that live
inside its borders. Unfortunately, in the new Fundamental Law there is not
even a single article dedicated to their linguistic rights, say the

The only reference to language is the sentence that says that: This Region
recognizes and protects the members of the Slovene national minority and
promotes the Friulan language, the Slovene language and the German
language. The Committee state that, this a step backward both in the eyes
of the Italian Constitution and the state laws 482 and 38 that protect the
linguistic minorities and the Slovene community in Italy.

The decision not to mention Friulan and German speakers, but only their
languages, has been seen as an offence to the dignity of the people of
these communities. For Friulans and Germans there are neither individual
nor collective rights, and the sentence about Slovenes is not clear at
all, its ambiguous, write the Committee members.

According to the Committee, the work the Regional Council has done in the
field of linguistic rights is a total failure. For this reason the Friulan
associations are going to contact the Advisory Committee of the Council of
Europes Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities,
that recently visited Italy and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. They will ask its
members to consider the Act approved by this Region in the report they are
preparing on the implementation of the Convention in Italy.

The new Fundamental Act will be examined by the Italian Parliament before
becoming law. The hope of 482 Committee members and of many citizens in
Fril (Friuli) and Triest is that the text of the Act will be changed.
(Eurolang  2005)

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