Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

 

News 2009

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Contact :
Secretariat of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, Strasbourg (France)
www.coe.int/minorities, tel +33 (0)3 90 21 44 33

[18/12/2009] San Marino: publication of the third cycle opinion

[16/12/2009] Poland: early publication of the second cycle opinion

[09/12/2009] Bosnia and Herzegovina: adoption of Committee of Ministers' recommendations on minority protection

[07-11/12/2009] Hungary: visit of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (no news release)

[07-10/12/2009] Germany: visit of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (no news release)

[03/12/2009] Slovak Republic: visit of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

[05/11/2009] Armenia: receipt of the 3rd cycle State Report

[05/11/2009] Portugal et Kosovo*: adoption of Advisory Committee Opinions

[26/10/2009] Serbia: publication of the 2nd cycle comments

[12/10/2009] Croatia: receipt of the 3rd cycle State Report

[12/10/2009] Georgia: early publication of the first cycle opinion

[12/10/2009] Cyprus: visit of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

[28/09/2009] Bulgaria: visit of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

[22/07/2009] Slovak Republic: receipt of the 3rd cycle State Report

[08/07/2009] Albania: adoption of Committee of Ministers' recommendations on minority protection

[26/06/2009] Advisory Committee: adoption of four opinions

[25/06/2009] Serbia: early publication of the 2nd cycle opinion

[10/06/2009] Bosnia and Herzegovina: publication of the 2nd cycle opinion and government comments

[04/06/2009] Hungary: receipt of the 3rd cycle State Report

[07/05/2009] Ukraine: receipt of the 3rd cycle State Report

[30/04/2009] Cyprus: receipt of the 3rd cycle State Report

[27/04/2009] Kosovo: visit of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

[22/04/2009] San Marino: receipt of the 3rd cycle State Report

[21/04/2009] Moldova: visit of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

[16/04/2009] Publication of the Advisory Committee Opinions to be accelerated

[09/04/2009] Germany: receipt of the 3rd cycle State Report

[18/03/2009] Liechtenstein: receipt of the 3rd cycle State Report

[24/02/2009] Start of the 3rd monitoring cycle

[24/02/2009] The Netherlands: visit of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

[02/02/2009] Sweden: Follow-up seminar on the implementation of the Framework Convention of National Minorities

[26/01/2009] "The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia": follow-up visit

[19/01/2009] Montenegro: adoption of Committee of Ministers' recommendations on minority protection

[19/01/2009] Consultation on indicators for assessing the impact of the Framework Convention

[14/01/2009] Portugal: receipt of the 2nd cycle State Report

[14/01/2009] The Committee of Ministers appoints a new ordinary member to sit on the Advisory Committee


 

18/12/2009
Protection of National Minorities: San Marino facilitates immigrants' integration
San Marino demonstrates a constructive approach towards a correct implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities of the Council of Europe. According to the Third Opinion of the Advisory Committee published today, important legal measures have been adopted against discrimination as well as initiatives to facilitate immigrants' integration.

The Advisory Committee welcomes the general climate of dialogue and tolerance in the country, with no record of any overt form of discrimination and intolerance. In order to contribute to the preservation of an atmosphere of mutual understanding in San Marino, it points out that further efforts are needed to increase awareness of the relevance of fighting racism. The Committee also recommends setting-up an independent institution to monitor racism and discrimination.
 

***

The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities includes a monitoring system whereby the Committee of Ministers, assisted by an Advisory Committee, evaluates its implementation.


16/12/2009
Poland: early publication of the second cycle opinion
The Second Opinion of the Council of Europe Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) on Poland has been made public by the Government. The Advisory Committee adopted this Opinion in March 2009 following a country visit in December 2008.

Summary of the Opinion:

“Since the adoption of the first Opinion of the Advisory Committee on Poland on 27 November 2003, Poland has continued to pay attention to the protection of national minorities. A number of positive steps have been taken in this area, such as the adoption of the Act on National and Ethnic Minorities and on Regional Language and the setting up of the Government structure for combating discrimination. National minorities continue to enjoy a high level of protection and relations between national minorities and the majority are characterised by a climate of mutual understanding and tolerance.

The above-mentioned Act provides for the opportunity to use the minority language as “supporting language” in administration and for topographical indications in the municipalities where the number of residents declaring their belonging to a national minority is not lower than 20%. This significantly increases the scope of linguistic rights enjoyed by persons belonging to national minorities.

Minority language teaching continues to constitute a main priority for the authorities. The educational subsidy for each pupil belonging to a national minority has been substantially increased to one and a half times the applicable amount for a pupil in a public school of the same type in the same municipality. Roma pupils benefit from targeted assistance in the form of Roma educational assistants and scholarships specifically earmarked for them. The authorities are integrating Roma pupils into ordinary schools and almost all separate Roma classes have been abolished.

National minorities participate actively in social and economic life and in public affairs in Poland. A significant number of representatives of national minorities were elected to local councils at all levels. Wide consultative prerogatives of the Joint Commission of Government and National and Ethnic Minorities enable it to influence significantly the debate on national minority issues and create a useful channel of communication with the authorities.

Funding for the protection, preservation and development of the cultural identity of minorities in Poland has increased considerably in the last few years.

There remain, however, shortcomings in the implementation of the Framework Convention. There has been an increase in the number of racially-motivated offences committed in the last few years in Poland. Adequate measures to combat racist incidents committed especially prior to, during and after sporting events have not been taken.

There are concerns about obstacles created at the local level, which result in persons belonging to national minorities being unable to exercise their rights, as well as about provocative statements, and the conditioning of respect for minority rights on reciprocity in neighbouring countries.
Further steps should be taken, in co-operation with those concerned, to address the difficulties faced by many Roma in housing, employment, and healthcare. Additional efforts should be made to find solutions to the problems they face in fields such as education and, more generally, in combating their social exclusion and marginalisation.

The actual number of municipalities using a minority language as “supporting language” in administration and displaying traditional local names, street names and other topographical indications in a minority language remains low. In addition, the right to use the “supporting language” in administration is restricted to municipal self-government authorities and does not extend to the police, health care services, the post office or the State administration at the local level.

In addition, there is a need to pursue a more inclusive approach and a wider dialogue at the domestic level with regard to the personal scope of application given to the Framework Convention in Poland.”

The government comments on the Opinion have also been made public.


09/12/2009
Bosnia and Herzegovina: adoption of Committee of Ministers' recommendations on minority protection
The Committee of Ministers has just adopted a resolution on the protection of national minorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The resolution contains conclusions and recommendations, highlighting positive developments but also a number of areas where further measures are needed to advance the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Extract from the resolution:

"In addition to the measures to be taken to implement the detailed recommendations contained in Sections I and II of the Advisory Committee's opinion, the authorities are invited to take the following measures to improve further the implementation of the Framework Convention:

- Consider the possibility of introducing, in the legal order, new terminology to be used to refer to persons belonging to national minorities;

- Take determined measures and mobilise the necessary resources to ensure the effective implementation of the action plans for the Roma in the fields of employment, housing and health care, in close co-operation with the latter's representatives; continue the active implementation of the Action Plan on the Educational Needs of Roma and Members of other National Minorities, focusing on participatory monitoring and evaluation of the measures taken so far;

- Envisage collecting comprehensive up-to-date data on the situation of national minorities while complying with international standards regarding the protection of personal data;

- Take a more determined approach to combating all forms of discrimination on ethnic, national or religious grounds, prosecute incitement to racial or religious hatred and discourage expressions of prejudice and stereotype, including in the media and politics;

- Take resolute steps to counteract the worrying trend towards increased school segregation of pupils along ethnic lines;

- Take all possible steps to ensure that the Councils of National Minorities can effectively perform their role and are thus able to improve the participation of persons belonging to national minorities in public affairs; adopt, where necessary, legislative and practical measures to allow improved representation of national minorities, and in particular of the Roma, in elected bodies, especially at the local level;

- Strive to give national minorities more substantial support on a regular basis with a view to preserving and developing their cultural heritage and languages;

- In areas inhabited by persons belonging to national minorities traditionally or in substantial numbers, carry out an assessment of the needs and demand of persons belonging to national minorities regarding the use of minority languages in relations with administrative authorities and on topographical signs and regarding teaching in and of these languages."


03/12/2009
Slovak Republic: visit of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

A delegation of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities will visit Bratislava and Kosice from 30 November - 04 December 2009 in the context of the monitoring of the implementation of this convention in the Slovak Republic.

This is the third visit of the Advisory Committee to the Slovak Republic. The Delegation will have meetings with the representatives of all relevant ministries, public officials, as well as persons belonging to national minorities and Human Rights NGOs.

The Delegation includes  Ms Ilze BRANDS-KEHRIS (First Vice-President of the Advisory Committee and member elected in respect of Latvia), Mr Giorgi MELADZE (member of the Advisory Committee elected in respect of Georgia) and Mr Alan PHILLIPS (President of the Advisory Committee and member elected in respect of the United Kingdom). They will be accompanied by Ms Eva KONECNA of the Secretariat on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Note: The Slovak Republic submitted its third State Report under the Framework Convention in July 2009. Following its visit, the Advisory Committee will adopt its own report (called Opinion), which will be sent to the Government for comments. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe will then adopt conclusions and recommendations in respect of the Slovak Republic.


05/11/2009
Armenia
submitted its third state report in English and Armenian, pursuant to Article 25, paragraph 1, of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. It is now up to the Advisory Committee to consider it and adopt an opinion intended for the Committee of Ministers.


05/11/2009
Portugal and Kosovo*: adoption of Advisory Committee Opinions
On 5 November 2009, the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities adopted opinions on Portugal and Kosovo which are restricted for the time-being.

These opinions will now be submitted to the Committee of Ministers, which is to adopt conclusions and recommendations.

 

* All reference to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.


26/10/2009
Serbia: publication of the 2nd cycle government comments
The government comments on the 2nd cycle Advisory Committee opinion were submitted on 30 September 2009 and made public on 26 October 2009.


12/10/2009
Croatia
submitted its third state report in English and Croatian, pursuant to Article 25, paragraph 1, of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. It is now up to the Advisory Committee to consider it and adopt an opinion intended for the Committee of Ministers.


12/10/2009
Georgia: early publication of the first cycle opinion

The Opinion of the Council of Europe Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) on Georgia has been made public by the Government. The Advisory Committee adopted this Opinion in March 2009 following a country visit in December 2008.

Summary of the Opinion:

"The Advisory Committee welcomes the fact that the ratification of the Framework Convention has triggered a debate in Georgia and that discussion is continuing in connection with the introduction of a more comprehensive legislative framework for the protection of national minorities. It hopes that, as a result of this debate, Georgia will be able to devise a legislative framework for the protection of national minorities and introduce an open, comprehensive, long-term policy making it possible to respond appropriately to existing and future needs, in accordance with the principles set out in the Framework Convention. It is important that persons belonging to national minorities are fully involved in this debate. The Advisory Committee notes with satisfaction that the Government has stressed the need to promote tolerance and integration, and hopes the draft Concept on tolerance and civic integration will be swiftly adopted and effectively implemented.

The Advisory Committee encourages the Georgian authorities and all the parties concerned, to step up their efforts and to take an open and constructive approach in order to find as soon as possible a just and lasting solution to the conflict over South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as the conflict is adversely affecting the implementation of the Framework Convention throughout the entire Georgian territory. In doing so, the principles enshrined in the Framework Convention must be fully respected, in order to guarantee the rights of persons belonging to national minorities.

The Advisory Committee considers that the linguistic rights of persons belonging to national minorities are still a major challenge facing the authorities. Whilst they are making efforts to make it easier for those persons belonging to national minorities who are not familiar with the Georgian language to learn it, these efforts are far from adequate and do not constitute an appropriate response to existing needs. Improving facilities for learning Georgian should therefore be a priority for the authorities. They should also ensure that the policy of promoting the Georgian language is not pursued to the detriment of the linguistic rights of persons belonging to national minorities, the effective enforcement of which requires more resolute measures, both in the legislative framework and in its implementation.

In the field of education, the lack of resources invested in tuition provided in minority languages means that the pupils concerned are not on an equal footing with other pupils. Moreover, although it takes note with interest of the reforms undertaken in the Georgian education system, the Advisory Committee is concerned about their potential implications for persons belonging to national minorities. In particular, it is essential to ensure equal access, with no unjustified obstacles, to higher education for pupils who have studied in minority language schools. More generally, the authorities should take all the measures needed to promote full and effective equality for persons belonging to minorities in the education system.
Participation of persons belonging to national minorities in the country's cultural, social and economic life and in public affairs remains limited, and many of them are isolated from Georgian society. Their inadequate command of the Georgian language is one of several factors accounting for their marginalisation. The authorities should take vigorous measures to remove legislative and practical obstacles to the participation of persons belonging to national minorities in elected bodies and in the executive, and allow minorities to be better represented in the public service. Consultation of representatives of national minorities by the authorities, particularly through the Council for Ethnic Minorities, should be more systematic, and the recommendations and proposals of this unique body representing minorities should be given all the necessary attention. Moreover, the Georgian authorities should take more resolute measures to promote the effective participation of persons belonging to national minorities in the socio-economic life of the country.

The Advisory Committee is concerned about increased religious tensions, which are particularly affecting persons belonging to national minorities. The authorities should make every effort to combat this phenomenon and, in general, all forms of intolerance based on ethnic or religious affiliation. It is also necessary to increase efforts to promote mutual understanding and intercultural dialogue between the majority population and persons belonging to national minorities, by means of a balanced policy that takes full account of the rights of persons belonging to minorities."

The government comments on the Opinion have also been made public.


12/10//2009
Cyprus: visit of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

A delegation of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities will visit Nicosia, from 12-15 October 2009 in the context of the monitoring of the implementation of this convention in Cyprus.

This is the third visit of the Advisory Committee to Cyprus. The Delegation will have meetings with the representatives of all relevant ministries, public officials, the Ombudsman, as well as persons belonging to national minorities.

The Delegation includes Ms Ilze BRANDS-KEHRIS (First Vice-President of the Advisory Committee and member elected in respect of Latvia), Ms Iulia MOTOC (member of the Advisory Committee elected in respect of Romania) and Mr Dalibor JILEK (member elected in respect of the Czech Republic). They will be accompanied by Ms Artemiza-Tatiana CHISCA of  the Secretariat on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Note: Cyprus submitted its third State Report under the Framework Convention in April 2009. Following its visit, the Advisory Committee will adopt its own report (called Opinion), which will be sent to the Cypriot Government for comments. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe will then adopt conclusions and recommendations in respect of Cyprus.


28/09/2009
Bulgaria: visit of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

A delegation of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities will visit Sofia and Plovidv, from 28 September - 02 October 2009 in the context of the monitoring of the implementation of this convention in Bulgaria.

This is the second visit of the Advisory Committee to Bulgaria. The Delegation will have meetings with the representatives of all relevant ministries, public officials, the Ombudsman, as well as persons belonging to national minorities and Human Rights NGOs.

The Delegation includes Mr Alan PHILLIPS (President of the Advisory Committee and member elected in respect of the United Kingdom), Mr Gáspár BIRO (member of the Advisory Committee elected in respect of Hungary) and Mr Ferenc HAJÓS (member of the Advisory Committee elected in respect of Slovenia). They will be accompanied by Ms Michèle AKIP, Head of the Secretariat on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and Mr Krzysztof  ZYMAN, Administrator in the Secretariat on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Note: Bulgaria submitted its second State Report under the Framework Convention in November 2007. Following its visit, the Advisory Committee will adopt its own report (called Opinion) in Spring 2010, which will be sent to the Bulgarian Government for comments. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe will then adopt conclusions and recommendations in respect of Bulgaria.


22/07/2009
The Slovak Republic
has just submitted its third state report in English and Slovak, pursuant to Article 25, paragraph 1, of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. It is now up to the Advisory Committee to consider it and adopt an opinion intended for the Committee of Ministers.


08/07/2009
Albania: adoption of Committee of Ministers' recommendations on minority protection
The Committee of Ministers has just adopted a resolution on the protection of national minorities in Albania. The resolution contains conclusions and recommendations, highlighting positive developments but also a number of areas where further measures are needed to advance the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Extract from the resolution:

"In addition to the measures to be taken in response to the detailed recommendations set out in sections I and II of the Advisory Committee’s opinion, the authorities are invited to take the following measures with a view to further improving the implementation of the Framework Convention:

- address the current lack of data on ethnic belonging notably by including a question on ethnic affiliation in the next census while respecting the international standards on personal data protection, including the principle of free self-identification and ensuring that this principle is also respected when issuing birth certificates;

- ensure that persons belonging to the “ethno-linguistic” minorities do not face undue obstacles in enjoying the protection of the Framework Convention;

- review the rigid territorial limitations to the application of the Framework Convention and ensure that persons belonging to national minorities can enjoy their rights without undue limitations;

- complete the Albanian legislative framework in order to address shortcomings concerning the prohibition of discrimination, the use of minority language in relations with administrative authorities, the display of topographical indications and the broadcasting for minorities;

- review the institutional bodies responsible for minority issues with a view to establishing regular dialogue between a government body with decision-making power and organisations representing the various minorities and ensure effective participation of persons belonging to minorities in decision-making processes;

- address the existing shortcomings in the field of minority language education, textbooks and teacher training; ensure the effective consultation of representatives of national minorities in those fields;

- take urgent action to remedy the absence of civil registration of many Roma, including by introducing a simplified administrative procedure and by developing awareness-raising measures on the importance of such registration;

- step up efforts to implement fully the National Strategy on Roma by involving local authorities, allocating adequate funding and resources and evaluate the progress made regularly;

- develop a policy to support national minority cultures in consultation with representatives of minorities;

- encourage training on minority issues for journalists, promote increased participation of minorities in media management bodies and extend the geographical coverage of minority language broadcasting;

- step up efforts to encourage the recruitment of persons belonging to minorities in public administration."


26/06/2009
Advisory Committee: adoption of four opinions
The Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities adopted four country-specific opinions under the first and third cycles of monitoring the implementation of this convention in States Parties.

The opinion on the Netherlands was adopted on 25 June;  those on Liechtenstein, Moldova and San Marino on 26 June. They are restricted for the time-being.

These four opinions will now be submitted to the Committee of Ministers, which is to adopt conclusions and recommendations.


25/06/2009
Serbia: early publication of the 2nd cycle opinion
The Opinion of the Council of Europe Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) on Serbia has been made public by the Government. The Advisory Committee adopted this Opinion in March 2009 following a country visit in November 2008.

Summary of the Opinion:

"Since the adoption of the Advisory Committee’s first Opinion in November 2003, the Serbian authorities adopted a new Constitution in 2006 which includes a commendable chapter on national minority protection. A new Criminal Code was adopted with some important provisions in the field of non-discrimination. The State level Ombudsman has started his work, with promising initiatives to be launched in the field of monitoring minority protection in all regions of Serbia. The commitment shown by the recently established Ministry of Human and Minority Rights in pursuing reform is encouraging.

Opportunities for persons belonging to national minorities to learn their languages have been expanded in certain areas of Serbia and some further measures to display traditional names and topographical indications have been taken. The national minority councils established so far have started to play an active role in articulating minorities’ interests, despite the legal vacuum regarding their role and activities.

The delay in adopting some pending legislation, including the law on the national minority councils, over the last five years has caused legitimate concerns and, on the whole, the pace of reform in the area of minority protection, has slowed down. The changes introduced to the legislative framework with regard to minority media have been marked by a lack of consistency and as a result, have created confusion.

In the field of education, the optional character of minority language teaching requires further discussion with representatives of national minorities. The problems encountered with regard to the recognition of diplomas from educational institutions from the region still complicate the access to education of certain persons belonging to national minorities.
It is crucial that the future National Strategy on Roma address vigorously the difficulties encountered by the Roma in accessing employment, education, housing and health care and that their lack of personal documentation is tackled as a matter of priority."

Note: The Framework Convention is ratified by 39 States. The Convention includes a monitoring system, whereby the Committee of Ministers, assisted by an advisory committee, evaluates the adequacy of the Convention's implementation. The Opinions of the Advisory Committee are made public upon the adoption of the Committee of Ministers’ resolution but can be made public at an earlier stage at the country’s initiative.


10/06/2009
Bosnia and Herzegovina: publication of the 2nd cycle opinion and government comments
The Opinion of the Council of Europe Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) on Bosnia and Herzegovina has been made public by the Government. The Advisory Committee adopted this Opinion in October 2008 following a country visit in March 2008.

Summary of the Opinion:

"Bosnia and Herzegovina has taken a number of measures to advance the implementation of the Framework Convention. Legislation on the protection of persons belonging to national minorities was adopted by the Federation and Republika Srpska. Further steps should nonetheless be taken to ensure that the existing legislation is fully implemented.

Persons belonging to national minorities continue to be included in the category of "Others", do not enjoy the same political rights as those belonging to the three constituent peoples and remain on the sidelines of public affairs. They still have low visibility within the society since the institutional system is focused on the interests of the three constituent peoples.

Commendable Action Plans for Roma housing, health and employment were recently devised with a view to advancing the implementation of the 2005 National Strategy for Roma. It is crucial that they are implemented without further delay as many Roma continue to face serious difficulties in the field of education, employment, housing and access to health care. Moreover, their possibilities to participate in decision-making processes are very limited.

In the field of education, there is a most worrying trend towards increased segregation of pupils along ethnic lines.

Consultative bodies for national minorities were set up in Republika Srpska and at the state level. It is important that these bodies be given adequate support so that they can effectively participate in the formulation of laws and policies. ..."

The government comments on the Opinion have also been made public.

Note: The Framework Convention is ratified by 39 States. The Convention includes a monitoring system, whereby the Committee of Ministers, assisted by an advisory committee, evaluates the adequacy of the Convention's implementation. The Opinions of the Advisory Committee are made public upon the adoption of the Committee of Ministers’ resolution but can be made public at an earlier stage at the country’s initiative.


04/06/2009
Hungary
has just submitted its third state report in English and Hungarian, pursuant to Article 25, paragraph 1, of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. It is now up to the Advisory Committee to consider it and adopt an opinion intended for the Committee of Ministers.


07/05/2009
Ukraine
has just submitted its third state report in English and Ukrainian, pursuant to Article 25, paragraph 1, of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. It is now up to the Advisory Committee to consider it and adopt an opinion intended for the Committee of Ministers.


30/04/2009
Cyprus
has just submitted its third state report in English, pursuant to Article 25, paragraph 1, of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. It is now up to the Advisory Committee to consider it and adopt an opinion intended for the Committee of Ministers.


27/04/2009
National minorities in Kosovo[1]: evaluation visit of the Advisory Committee

Date:  27-30 April 2009

Location: Kosovo1

Organised by the Council of Europe Advisory Committee – an expert body set up under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Description: The aim of the visit is to evaluate the progress made in protecting national minorities in Kosovo.

The Committee will specifically look at the implementation of existing legislation, the measures taken to increase minority communities’ participation in public life and the promotion of interaction between pupils from different communities in the education system. It will assess the follow-up which has been given to its recommendations contained in its 2005 Opinion.

The Advisory Committee will hold meetings with minority communities, including the Ashkali, Bosniacs, Gorani, Egyptians, Montenegrins, Roma, Serbs and Turks as well as NGOs. It will discuss the situation of these communities with representatives of  international organisations and local authorities.

This second visit is carried out under the specific agreement concluded between the Council of Europe and UNMIK (United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo) in 2004. It follows the progress report submitted by UNMIK in July 2008.

Following the visit, the Advisory Committee will draw up an Opinion in which specific recommendations will be highlighted.

More information:   

-          Advisory Committee Opinion on Kosovo (2005)

-          UNMIK Progress Report (2008) (English; Albanian and Serbian)

Press contact: Ulvi Akhundlu, ulvi.akhundlu@coe.int, tel. +33 (0)3 88 41 26 38, mobile +33 (0)6 61 14 83 16.

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[1] All reference to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.


22/04/2009
San Marino
has just submitted its third state report in English, pursuant to Article 25, paragraph 1, of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. It is now up to the Advisory Committee to consider it and adopt an opinion intended for the Committee of Ministers.


21/04//2009
Moldova: visit of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

A delegation of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities will visit Chisinau, Moldova from 21-24 April 2009 in the context of the monitoring of the implementation of this convention in Moldova.

This is the third visit of the Advisory Committee to Moldova. The Delegation will have meetings with the representatives of all relevant ministries, public officials, as well as persons belonging to national minorities and Human Rights NGOs.

The Delegation includes Mr Gáspár BIRO (member of the Advisory Committee elected in respect of Hungary), Ms Bohumila FERENCUHOVA (member of the Advisory Committee elected in respect of the Slovak Republic) and Mr Alan PHILLIPS (member of the Advisory Committee elected in respect of the United Kingdom). They will be accompanied by Ms. Françoise KEMPF from the Secretariat.

Note: Moldova submitted its third State Report under the Framework Convention in February 2009. Following its visit, the Advisory Committee will adopt its own report (called Opinion) in June 2009, which will be sent to the Moldovan Government for comments. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe will then adopt conclusions and recommendations in respect of Moldova.


16/04/2009
Publication of the Advisory Committee Opinions to be accelerated
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted on 16 April, a major amendment to the rules governing the publicity of the Opinions of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities: Opinions will now become automatically public four months after they have been transmitted to the State concerned.

States are encouraged to publish the Advisory Committee’s Opinions immediately upon receipt but if they don’t do so at that stage, according to the newly adopted rules, the Opinions will automatically be public after four months. This amendment foresees that exemption to this four month-rule is only permitted on the basis of reasoned objections by the State concerned.

This new rule will be applied to subsequently adopted Opinions.

Reference: Full text of the amendment


09/04/2009
Germany has just submitted its third state report in English [and German], pursuant to Article 25, paragraph 1, of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. It is now up to the Advisory Committee to consider it and adopt an opinion intended for the Committee of Ministers.


20/03/2009
Advisory Committee: adoption of three opinions
The Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities adopted three country-specific opinions under the first and second cycles of monitoring the implementation of this convention in States Parties.

The opinions on Georgia and Serbia were adopted on 19 March and the opinion on Poland was adopted on 20 March 2009. They are restricted for the time-being.

These four opinions will now be submitted to the Committee of Ministers, which is to adopt conclusions and recommendations.


18/03/2009
Liechtenstein has just submitted its third state report in English [and German], pursuant to Article 25, paragraph 1, of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. It is now up to the Advisory Committee to consider it and adopt an opinion intended for the Committee of Ministers.


24/02/2009
Start of the 3rd monitoring cycle: Moldova has just submitted its third state report in English [as well as in the official language], pursuant to Article 25, paragraph 1, of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. It is now up to the Advisory Committee to consider it and adopt an opinion intended for the Committee of Ministers.


24/02/2009
The Netherlands: visit of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

A delegation of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities will visit the Netherlands from 25-27 February 2009 in the context of the monitoring of the implementation of this convention by this country. The delegation will visit Leeuwarden (Fryslân) as well as Utrecht, Amsterdam and the Hague.

This is the first visit of the Advisory Committee in the Netherlands: the scope of application of the Framework Convention as well as the measures taken to implement this Convention will be at the centre of the discussion.

The Delegation will have meetings with the representatives of all relevant ministries as well as Provincial authorities. In addition to contacts with public officials, the Delegation will also meet persons belonging to national minorities and Human Rights NGOs.

The Delegation includes Mr Francesco Palermo (member elected in respect of Italy), Mr Giorgi Meladze (member of the Advisory Committee elected in respect of Georgia) and Ms Bohumila Ferencuhova (member elected in respect of the Slovak Republic). They will be accompanied by Ms Stéphanie Marsal from the Secretariat.

Note: The Netherlands submitted its first State Report under the Framework Convention in July 2008. Following its visit, the Advisory Committee will adopt its own report (called Opinion) in the first semester 2009, which will be sent to the Dutch Government for comments. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe will then adopt conclusions and recommendations in respect of the Netherlands.


02/02/2009
(Sami language school)

Sweden: Follow-up seminar on the implementation of the Framework Convention of National Minorities
The Swedish authorities and the Council of Europe are organising a follow-up seminar on 5-6/2/2009 to discuss how the findings of the monitoring bodies of the Framework Convention are being implemented in Sweden.


26/01/2009
Follow-up Seminar in "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia"
The authorities and the Council of Europe are organising a follow-up seminar today to discuss how the findings of the monitoring bodies of the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities are being implemented in "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia".


19/01/2009
Montenegro: adoption of Committee of Ministers' recommendations on minority protection
The Committee of Ministers has just adopted a resolution on the protection of national minorities in Montenegro. The resolution contains conclusions and recommendations, highlighting positive developments but also a number of areas where further measures are needed to advance the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Extract from the resolution:

In addition to the measures to be taken to implement the detailed recommendations contained in Sections I and II of the Advisory Committee's opinion, the authorities are invited to take the following measures to improve further the implementation of the Framework Convention:

"Montenegro has taken important steps for the protection of national minorities: it adopted a Constitution which includes a minority rights chapter reflecting the principles of the Framework Convention. A National Strategy on Roma has been adopted; national minority councils are being inaugurated and a substantial fund for minorities has been approved by the Parliament, paving the way for increased support in respect of their cultures. The political will of the authorities, and in particular the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights, to enhance national minority rights protection in Montenegro is to be welcomed.

- The adoption of more detailed legal guarantees together with the availability of adequate implementation and monitoring capacity are now needed to fully implement constitutional rights and policy documents. Legal provisions on the use of minority languages in the relations between persons belonging to national minorities and the administrative authorities need to be made more specific. Further efforts need to be made regarding the availability of minority language teaching as part of the school curriculum, including for the Bosniacs/Muslims and the Croats. The difficulties experienced by many Roma in various fields of life require a vigorous implementation of the National Strategy and an adequate monitoring of the progress made in this context.

- The authorities should address citizenship in a way that secures full and effective equality for persons belonging to national minorities. Due attention should be paid to ensuring that there is no unjustified restriction to the personal scope of application of the Framework Convention, and that accessing fundamental rights for those whose legal status is currently unclear, in particular the Roma and the Serbs, is guaranteed.

- While inter-ethnic relations have remained peaceful, on the whole, in Montenegro, interaction and dialogue need to be expanded among the different segments of society. Media has an important role to play in this respect and efforts should be made to increase the availability of information on national minorities to the general public. Greater involvement of national minority journalists by editorial boards in the production of educational, cultural and other mainstream programmes is also encouraged.

- The implication of the constitutional right to “authentic representation” of national minorities in Parliament needs to be approached with all due caution so as to avoid any excessive polarisation of politics along ethnic lines and the monopolisation of discussions on national minorities by certain political parties.

- In line with the Strategy on Minority Policy adopted in July 2008, the provision of the Constitution on “proportionate representation” of national minorities in public services needs to be made operational, notably by relying on data on the participation of persons belonging to national minorities and by catering for national minorities’ specific training needs to compete better for public posts.

- Shortcomings regarding the effective participation of persons belonging to national minorities in economic life need to be addressed. National minorities should be closely involved in the implementation of regional development plans targeting economically-depressed areas where they live."


19/01/2009
Consultation on indicators for assessing the impact of the Framework Convention

The European Academy of Bolzano (EURAC) is now seeking input into a report on indicators for assessing the impact of the Framework Convention from national minorities, non-governmental organisations, experts and other stakeholders in the field of minority rights. This consultation will feed into an evaluation process of the Framework Convention’s impact in its 39 State Parties. This process was launched in Strasbourg in October 2008 at a conference to mark the 10th anniversary of this treaty. The report is available on (EURAC web-site http://www.eurac.edu/fcnm.consultation) and http://www.coe.int/minorities .
Those interested are encouraged to send their written comments to fcnm.consultation@eurac.edu  before 31 March 2009.


14/01/2009
Portugal has just submitted its second state report in French and Portuguese, pursuant to Article 25, paragraph 1, of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. It is now up to the Advisory Committee to consider it and adopt an opinion intended for the Committee of Ministers.


14/01/2009
The Committee of Ministers appoints a new ordinary member to sit on the Advisory Committee

Ms Brigitta Busch has been appointed in respect of Austria, as ordinary member of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention commencing on 14 January 2009 and expiring on 31 May 2010.