Strasbourg, 1 march 2023

Statement from Aleksandra Oszmiańska-Pagett Chair of the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

Regional and minority languages are part of Europe's cultural and intangible heritage. The Council of Europe, aware that their protection and promotion contribute to the construction of a Europe based on respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, adopted the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in 1992, on the basis of preliminary work initiated in 1957 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

This treaty, which today marks the 25th anniversary of its entry into force, obliges the 25 States Parties that have ratified it to actively promote the use of these languages in education, justice, administration, media, culture, economic and social life and cross-border cooperation.

The system of commitments adopted in the Charter allows for adaptation to the situation of each language, taking into account the social, political and economic contexts which shape them. It makes it possible to guarantee the use of each of the more than 80 regional and minority languages currently protected by the Charter in all sectors of everyday life. The Charter unquestionably contributes to the consolidation of a closer union between our people, while reinforcing the cultural diversity which is the strength of our continent.

For 25 years, the Committee of Independent Experts (COMEX), which monitors the implementation of the Charter, has been able to count on the support of national and European organisations for the promotion of regional or minority languages, which are essential partners in the pursuit of this common objective. Their expertise on the ground enables the COMEX to gather valuable information during its on-the-spot visits to the countries concerned.

On the basis of the COMEX evaluation reports and recommendations, as well as the recommendations of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the States Parties have useful tools at their disposal to better develop and deploy policies on the use of regional and minority languages on a daily basis. As the Charter is a living instrument and is assessed in the light of current living conditions, new issues and challenges are now taken into consideration, such as the place given to regional and minority languages in new technologies, in social media or in the development of artificial intelligence.

For a quarter of a century, the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages has been an instrument for rationalising and objectifying discussions on the protection and promotion of regional and minority languages. It must therefore be understood as such by all Council of Europe member states. Their accession to the Charter remains a necessary precondition for regional and minority languages to continue to be safeguarded, protected and promoted.