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FUEN President at UN Forum on Minority Issues in Geneva: Global and European standards are needed

“The “national” and the European “system” of minority protection, as it stands today, leaves several points for improvement” – said FUEN President MEP Loránt Vincze on Friday, 2 December 2022, at the Fifteenth session of the UN Forum on Minority Issues in Geneva.

Invited by the Special rapporteur on Minority Issues, Fernand de Varennes to the highest level minority forum in the world, Mr. Vincze explained that the tragedy and horrors of war in Europe in the nineties led to the acknowledgement of the need to have a legal and political framework to protect the rights of minorities, which led to the adoption in the Council of Europe’s European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and contributed to the adoption by the European Union of the Copenhagen accession criteria on respect for and protection of minorities. “Yet, in the decades that followed, the international concern for the situation of minority communities has been constantly declining, due to misguided ideas that the issue of minority rights is politically sensitive or that they should best be dealt at national level”, he pointed out, adding that he is firmly convinced that minority rights are not exclusively national matters.

In his opinion the European Union should once again return to reaffirming the principle with view of the prospect of accession of Western Balkan countries, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, so as to achieve meaningful results in terms of security, good interethnic relations, peaceful reconciliation, human rights and cultural diversity. The FUEN President said that this geopolitical approach is of particular importance today.

At the Forum organised on the 30th anniversary of the UN Declaration in Minority Rights, the FUEN President expressed his full support for the UN and its institutions to continue the fight for better recognition, protection and promotion of the rights of minorities. He recalled that at its congress in Berlin in the beginning of October the FUEN adopted a resolution in which it highlighted the importance of the UN Declaration and the priorities formulated at the UN General Assembly in September.

He also emphasised the paramount importance of the voice of the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, saying that he believes that Mr Fernand de Varennes’ work led to the major statement about minorities, adopted by the UN in New York last autumn. “I agree with the conclusion of the special rapporteur that the UN could be more effective in the protection of minorities by specifically targeting regional particularities, including through better partnerships and increased synergies with inter-governmental and or transnational organisations at regional level, as are the Council of Europe and the European Union”, said Loránt Vincze.

Because of the lack of reaction or reporting about this issue from the side of the EU institutions so far, in his quality of Member of the European Parliament he had proposed a debate on the UN Declaration during the EP’s plenary session on 12-15 December this year. Ha also announced that as the rapporteur of the European Parliament on the EU and Council of Europe inter-institutional cooperation he will point out in his draft report the need for a close cooperation between the institutions including in the field of minority protection.

He concluded that to achieve a satisfactory level of minority protection global and EU standards are needed for the protection of rights of persons belonging to minorities, in addition in the EU it is paramount for the respect for the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities to be incorporated in the annual rule of law monitoring cycle.