EBLUL ’s PfD 2008 a success as Poland ratifies the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Tue Sep 16 17:26:24 UTC 2008

   EBLUL's PfD 2008 a success as Poland ratifies the European Charter for
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Gdańsk, Monday, 15 September 2008 by Davyth Hicks

 EBLUL and the Pomorskie Voivodship region hosted the 8th Partnership for
Diversity conference (PfD) in Gdańsk, Poland on 12th September. The
conference, created to explore best practice in the implementation of
language policy, asked whether the EU was serious about regional languages -
judging by the conference speakers the answer was a resounding 'Yes'.
Furthermore, the opening speakers announced that Poland has ratified the
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, with bilingual
Kashubian – Polish signage being erected this week. The Charter has been
ratified by both Chambers of the Polish Parliament and signed by the
President. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will now deliver the ratified
document to Strasbourg, together with detailed instructions on the points
and regulations accepted.

Welcoming speeches were given by Mieczlslaw Struk, Vice-Marshal of Pomorskie
Voivodship, EBLUL President Neasa ni Chinneide, and Artur Jablonski,
chairman of the Kashubian Pomeranian Association. Tersea Condeço, European
Commission, then took the floor underlining the importance of PfD in its
contribution to language best practice and that of EBLUL over the last 20
years,  she emphasised the Commission's support for regional languages,
noting the 1,500 projects funded at a cost of 40 million euros up until

Ms Condeço gave some hints at what the forthcoming Commission Communication
will contain. She referred to the EU Council of Ministers who met in
February for the first time to discuss multilingualism and who were clearly
in favour on doing more to promote language learning. This was coupled with
a resounding endorsement from an online consultation, where 10% of the
contributions came from regional or minority language speakers, indicating
that the Commission policy on multilingualism has broad support. Ms Condeço
highlighted that  "multilingualism acts as a bridge between cultures" and
"contributes to prosperity and citizenship". She said that the new
Communication would include discussion of the better use of media and new
technologies especially in local communities, and also look to promoting
European languages outwith Europe.

Sonia Parayre, from the Secretariat of European Charter for Regional or
Minority Languages (ECRML), discussed the role of the Council of Europe. She
underlined that "language policy is key to building the structures necessary
for regeneration". So far 70 languages are recognised by ECRML, but that
there are still problems over effective implementation. She continued that
while it is sometimes difficult to highlight the advantages of regenerating
languages the intangible benefits were huge, concluding that "if we lose a
language we lose a whole world."

In his paper, the Basque MEP Mikel Irujo Amezaga, discussed the role of the
European Parliament's regional language and national minority Intergroup. He
described the Intergroup's two main functions of serving to, "gather diverse
opinions on the same issue, minorities, their culture, their traditions and
of course their languages…. We study different cases from all over Europe
which gives a us a wider perception of the same 'problem' lived in different
ways… the Intergroup really represents the EU slogan of 'together in
diversity'." Secondly, "the Intergroup means that the issue of minorities
and language is important within the European institutions. Although the EU
is based on States, they cannot ignore the reality that there are more
nations, and regions in Europe that do not fit in very well in the scheme of
an EU of States." Said Mr Irujo, concluding that, "this Intergroup is the
'microphone' of the minorities."

PfD continued with a host of outstanding papers on language policy
implementation including: Tomasz Wicherkiewicz on regional and minority
languages in Poland; Mikel Anton, Basque Government director of European
affairs, on the European dimension of language policy in the Basque Country;
and Brunon Synak who discussed the political transformation and development
of Kashubian as a regional language. (Eurolang 2008)

PfD 2008 http://www.wrotapomorza.pl/pl/pfd/eng

EBLUL http://www.eblul.org/

European Commission, Multilingualism

Council of Europe, ECRML

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