A new book on national minorities in Europe ranks both France and Greece as having worse national minority rights than Russia.
The book, written by Christoph Pan and Beate Sibylle Pfeil, was launched on Wednesday (14th February) at the joint Sud Tirol, Trentino, and Tyrol office in Brussels. The authors compiled the ranking by comparing the performance of European states in their implementation of national minority rights, based on data drawn from the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM).
The bottom four are France, Belarus, Greece and Turkey. Top of the table came Belgium and Finland, followed by Denmark, Hungary and Spain.
The study follows one in 2001 where the legal status of minorities in 36 European states gave the following results: half of the states (18) had fulfilled their commitments to the extent of 50%-85%, fifteen states (42%) had implemented 30%-50% of the measures required, whereas only three states, Belarus, Greece and Turkey gave much lower figures.
The study shows that by 2006 two thirds of states (25) had fulfilled their commitments to the extent of 50% - 85%, and the number of states fulfilling 30-50% of commitments in terms of quality of minority protection dropped from fifteen to eight, but that the number of states still far behind remained unchanged.
At the lower and critical levels Russia, Ukraine, France, Belarus and Greece had not progressed at all, with the authors describing these states as “nearly completely resistant to any innovation in this field.”
The UK also came under criticism for its wide interpretation of the FCNM (a Convention that aims to protect historic, indigenous national minorities), because the UK includes most minorities, both national and ethnic, in its ratification, but continues to exclude the Cornish. For the authors such an example shows that, for the FCNM to work properly, it is essential for the Council of Europe to uphold its definition of what constitutes a national minority when dealing with member states. (Eurolang 2007)
Minderheitenrechte in Europa, Handbuch der europaischen Volksgruppen
, Band 2, Springer, Vienna/ New York (2006) by Christoph Pan and Beate Sibylle Pfeil.
Council of Europe FCNM website http://www.coe.int/T/E/human_rights/minorities/