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Europe must defend minority rights

2022.04.12. 10:08 2022.04.12. 10:11
Europe must defend minority rights

The French minister of the interior recently announced that the government is starting talks with Corsica concerning the island’s autonomy. Presumably, the Ukrainian war sparked this as their local ethnic national minority played a significant role in the outbreak of the conflict.

Even though ethnic and national minority issues have created severe turbulence in the past century, they are often swept under the carpet.

– writes the opinion piece featured in the American weekly Newsweek, penned by Prime Ministerial Commissioner Katalin Szili, former Speaker of the National Assembly, and Ferenc Kalmár, Ministerial Commissioner for Hungary's Neighborhood Policy and former rapporteur of the Council of Europe on national minorities.

“The United States — as the leading country in the world in the field of peace, stability and human rights — should be aware of Europe's ethnic / national minorities issues in order to prevent conflicts that arise from them,” the article continues.

Due to history and the events that ensued, members of certain nations do not live within the borders of their given country. These groups live as minorities despite the fact that they have lived in their homeland for centuries. Currently, more than 50 million members of the EU (more than ten percent of the EU population) belong to “autochthonous national minorities.” Practically every Member State is home to a national minority.

“In order to manage the problems that threaten to erase many of Europe's ethnic/national minorities, the concept of the nation state needs to be revised, considering that the era of exclusionist nation states is at an end.”

“The concept of the inclusive nation state based on democratic rights should prevail,” they write. This is how cultural diversity will be preserved which has contributed over centuries to global development. However, according to them, Europe and the European Union do not take responsibility for the fates of these minorities. In fact, they write: “...on this issue the E.U. remains oddly silent.”

European history provides ample evidence that an inadequate response to national minority issues is a main cause of conflict and human rights violations.

– write Katalin Szili and Ferenc Kalmár in their co-authored article.

The politicians proposed the following five principles to be incorporated into European legislation to maintain “peace and stability on the continent.”

  1. “National minority issues are not a domestic issue, but a European one. Minority rights are part of universal human rights. Effective, successful management of this issue can be achieved only at European level.”
  2. “The protection of national minorities should be based on the right to identity…”
  3. “In order to protect identity, both individual and collective rights need to be guaranteed….”
  4. “Citizenship and national identity are separate concepts that do not necessarily coincide…”
  5. “National minorities living in the territory of a member state are constituent elements of that state…”

Photo: MTI/Haáz Sándor

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