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FUEN’s European Dialogue Forum meets Council of Europe leaders, Members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg

National minority issues will remain a priority of the Council of Europe – this was the message of Bjørn Berge, Deputy Secretary General of the CoE at Wednesday’s meeting in Strasbourg with FUEN’s European Dialogue Forum (EDF). The high-ranking official underlined the importance of CoE’s legal instruments for the protection of minorities (the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities European Charter of Regional or Minority Languages) and the case law of the European Convention on Human Rights and stressed the importance of deepening his institute’s cooperation with the European Union in the field of minority protection.

The FUEN delegation, led by President Loránt Vincze and EDF speaker Jens A. Christiansen, had the main message for the CoE leadership to keep minority rights high on the agenda and to treat them as human rights. They also asked CoE to promote minority politics as peace politics among governments and expressed the need for better minority protection in certain countries. The Deputy Secretary General welcomed the opportunity to strengthen the cooperation with FUEN.

The recent reforms of the monitoring system of the Framework Convention and the Language Charter were the main topics at the meeting with CoE’s Anti-discrimination Department, where specific formats for the FUEN to get engaged were discussed. The participants entertained ways in which FUEN could participate in an observer capacity in different working groups and steering committees with relevance to national minorities.

The EDF delegation also met the leaders of the German community in Alsace at the headquarters of "René-Schickele-Gesellschaft/ Culture et Bilinguisme". Here, the challenges for minorities to preserve their linguistic heritage and identity under conditions of non-recognition were discussed.

The political participation of minorities in national and European elections and their representation in political bodies were high on the agenda Thursday in Strasbourg, where FUEN’s European Dialogue Forum had a roundtable discussion with members of the European Parliament and of the French National Assembly. At the invitation of the European Parliament’s Intergroup for Traditional Minorities, National Communities and Languages, FUEN’s delegation presented the organisation’s activities. At the meeting, the future of the Minority SafePack Initiative was discussed. The participants agreed on the importance of having minority representatives in the new European Parliament after the 2024 elections and expressed the need to work together on the protection of minorities on the European level, which is an important goal that still needs to be achieved, and for which the support of as many MEPs from the majority as possible also needs to be obtained.

FUEN’s delegation consisted of:

Mr. Loránt Vincze, President of the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN), MEP

Mr. Jens A. Christiansen, South Schleswig Association (SSF)

Mr Gösta Toft, FUEN Vice President, Bund Deutscher Nordschleswiger (BDN)

Ms. Olivia Schubert, FUEN Vice President, National Self-Government of Germans in Hungary (LdU)

Mr. Bernard Gaida, FUEN Vice President, Association of German Social Cultural Societies in Poland (VdG)

Mr. Andor Barabás, President of the Youth of European Nationalities (YEN)

Mr. Mihály Debreceni, Cultural Association of Hungarians in Subcarpathia (KMKSZ)

Mr. Richard Weiss, "René-Schickele-Gesellschaft/ Culture et Bilinguisme"

Mr. Jean Faivre, Movement “Unser Land”

Mr. Bernard Faivre, Movement “Unser Land”

Mr. Jean-Pierre Levesque, Cultural Institute of Brittany

Ms. Kateryna Haertel, Political Officer & Project Coordinator FUEN Brussels 

Mr. Johan Häggman, Policy advisor FUEN Brussels