Basque Confederation calls on France not to attack Basque language

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Fri Jun 10 15:23:41 UTC 2005

Basque Confederation calls on France not to attack Basque language

It has spoken to the Public Institution for the Basque Language and the
French Government asking them to stop riding roughshod over the Basque
language and adopt measures to denounce this

Aitor Renteria

Euskal Konfederazioa (The Basque Confederation) is concerned and angry.
Angry, because it feels that the French Government fails to respect
language rights. It has made a direct appeal to the new French government
to abandon this course and to make a language policy in favour of the
Basque language a priority. Not just with words, but with actions, too. It
has also appealed to the EEP-Euskara Erakunde Publikoa (Public Institution
for the Basque Language), which is responsible for language policy in the
Northern Basque Country, to denounce infringements of language rights.

In the area of education the threat that Seaska is being subjected to is
of particular concern for Euskal Konfederazioa. Its chairman, Mixel
Etxeberri, pointed out yesterday: The French Governments decisions are not
only hampering the development of Seaska, they are putting classrooms at
risk of being closed. Despite the increase in the number of students, the
education authorities of the French Government have not increased the
number of Seaska primary school teachers and have deducted 20 hours from
secondary education. The Euskal Konfederazioa has also denounced the fact
that the CAPES certificate required to work as a schoolteacher is the same
as before.

The EEP is keen to bring together all the work needed to be done to
formulate a language policy. Part of it corresponds to public life and
Euskal Konfederazioa pointed out that much has to be done in that area.
The attitude of the SNCF (Frances public railway), for example, not only
remains unchanged but is also more uncompromising, stressed Etxeberri. He
told the EEP that responsibilities needed to be assumed in this field,
too. The sphere of justice is also a source of concern. Until now there
has been a recognition of the right of political militants born in the
Southern Basque Country to speak in Basque in trials held in Paris. In the
latest trials this right has not only been denied, the Attorney General
has equated speaking in Basque with being a member of ETA. Euskal
Konfederazioas secretary, Jakes Bortairu, expressed his concern that they
are insulting and pouring scorn on the Basque language when they prohibit
and criminalise it. They stressed that such attitudes had to be changed
completely and pointed out that constantly linking those who support
Basque with ETA does nobody a favour.

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