Allthough the majority of the European governments have signed and ratified the various Charters and Treaties protecting languages and minorities such as the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Cultural Expressions and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, the implementation often leaps behind.
One of such cases is the situation in Nordfriesland. The Länder of Schleswig Holstein is trying to redraw its internal municipalities limits in order to make greater units. The gerrymandering** of this limits would imply the dissolution of one of its recognized minorities the Frisians in areas where they will no longer be a cultural majority. This unilateral action of the government of the Schleswig Holstein Länder directly contravenes to the spirit of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, as detailed in the article 7 of the Charter:
In respect of regional or minority languages, within the territories in which such languages are used and according to the situation of each language, the Parties shall base their policies, legislation and practice on some important objectives and principles. President of the EFA Nelly Maes underlines that:
”The recognition of the regional or minority languages is an expression of cultural wealth. The Charter clearly states that respect of the geographical area of each regional or minority language and therefor it is essentialto ensure that existing or new administrative divisions do not constitute an obstacle to the promotion of the regional or minority language in question.”
The French parties of EFA gathered in R&PS strongly demand to change article 2 of the French Constitution because it rejects the official recognition and the juridical protection necessary for the regional languages to survive. They call this article “the dead penalty to regional languages.
The EFA- European Free Alliance strongly supports the civic initiative that a wide network of citizens from Nordfriesland have started, aiming to safeguard the Nordfriesland boundaries . Our partner party FNP will be defending this position as well in the next provincial elections that will take part in the Netherlands on the 7 th of march. Bernat Joan i Mari, Professor in linguistics and MEP for EFA tabled questions to the European Commission and European Council on this. The EFA-European Free Alliance, European Political Party is thoroughly committed to defend all rights of citizens of cultural or linguistic minorities protecting them from cultural or political threats that unfortunately still occur in Europe nowadays.
*The 21 st February International Mother Tongue Language was instituted by the UNESCO in 1999 to commemorate the death of 3 Bangladeshi students who were demonstrating in 1952 for the official recognition of their language, and to promote cultural and linguistic diversity.
** gerymandering means a controversial form of redistricting in which electoral district or constituency boundaries are manipulated for an electoral advantage.In this case to dilute the impact of the Frisian minority and you could say “Germanymandering”.