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FUEN Presidium and Minority Council in constructive dialogue on further development of the minority organisation

On 30 January, representatives of the Danish minority, the Frisian ethnic group, the Sorbian people, as well as the German Sinti and Roma, the spokesperson of the Working Group of Slavic Minorities (AGSM) and the Presidium of the umbrella organisation of the European minorities, FUEN, met in Berlin to work together on a strategy for the further development of theorganisation, which will meet the political and social challenges in a diverse Europe. And in particular to ensure that the important common goals of the European national minorities - the better protection and promotion of minority rights - are not lost sight of.

The starting point for the meeting was the debate at the FUEN Congress in autumn 2022 in Berlin on democracy, the rule of law and the priorities of FUEN. The four minority organisations had submitted a motion to this effect, according to which FUEN should clearly commit itself to democracy and the rule of law and also declare that the funding that FUEN receives from national states has no effect on the political orientation and the setting of topics for the organisation. However, due to the short notice in which the motion was submitted, it was not put to a vote. This subsequently caused discussion among the public of some member organisations.The FUEN Presidium then invited representatives of the four autochthonous national minorities in Germany, which are united in the Minority Council, to a further exchange on this topic.

The very constructive dialogue with the FUEN Presidium led to an agreement on the joint further development of the basic documents of the minority organisation. This includes the statutes, the FUEN charter and the rules of procedure. These would have to be partly adapted to the changing framework conditions in order to adequately reflect the size and diversity of the organisation in the future. In particular, the values of democracy should be further elaborated and strengthened.

In this context, the spokesperson of the FUEN Working Group of Slavic Minorities, Angelika Mlinar, expressed her disappointment that the Slavic minorities are no longer represented in the Presidium of FUEN and called for a long-term solution that ensures the representation of all members in the Presidium to be included in the election regulations.

With over 100 member organisations in 36 countries, FUEN is the largest minority organisationin Europe. Since its foundation in 1949, its aim has been to stabilise democratic values and tomake them concrete in relation to minorities. Due to the growth of the organisation, it now has a representation and breadth that brings with it new challenges with regard to this understanding of democracy - which, even detached from the minority context, repeatedly puts the relationship of the European Community to its individual states to the test.

Dawid Statnik, a Lusatian Sorbe and current President of the Minority Council of the four autochthonous national minorities and ethnic groups, said after the meeting: "FUEN has been the independent representative body of the autochthonous national minorities in Europe for over 70 years. Democracy and the rule of law are the basis for an effective and efficient minority policy in Europe. Regardless of the support from individual states, it is always important for us to openly name deficits with regard to rule of law structures in European states, as these are closely related to the protection of minority rights. There was consensus on this in the discussion."  

"We had a good dialogue and are on the right track," said FUEN President Loránt Vincze. "I am confident that with the further development of our statutes we will create the basis for achieving a lot for the protection of minorities in Europe as an organisation also in the future. Especially in the context of the recent appeal against the negative MSPI ruling of November 2022, it is important that FUEN acts united and self-confident."