U.S. English Foundation Research



Language Research

7. International treaties: Did the country ratify any international treaty dealing with the protection of minorities?

Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities signed on February 1, 1995.

Updated (April 2001)

Poland was one of the first states that signed the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities; however, it was ratified only on December 20, 2000 and entered into force in April 2001. According to a non-published report carried out by the European Parliament, there are nine national minority languages in Poland: Bielorussian, German, Kashubian, Lithuanian, Romany, Slovak, Ukrainian, Russian and Yiddish.

Updated (May 2003)

On May 12, 2003, Poland signed in Strasbourg the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

Source: Council of Europe, News, May 12, 2003, www.coe.int

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Updated (June 2006)

On 13 January 1992, a bilateral treaty between the Republic of Poland and the Republic of Lithuania was signed in Vilnius. The treaty recognized the existence of the Lithuanian minority in Poland and the Polish minority in Lithuania, and obliged both states to protect their rights (including the right to education in the respective minority languages) on a mutual basis.

Source: Mercator Education, Regional Dossiers, The Lithuanian Language in Education of Poland http://www1.fa.knaw.nl/mercator/regionale_dossiers/regional_dossier_lithuanian_in_poland.htm

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Updated (September 2008)


EBLUL and the Pomorskie Voivodship region hosted their annual Partnership for Diversity (PfD) conference in Gdansk on 12 September. The primary aim of the conference was to explore how serious is the EU about regional languages.

At the beginning of the conference, it was announced that Poland has ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, with both the Chambers of the Polish Parliament and the President signing it. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will now deliver the ratified document to Strasbourg, along with the detailed notes on the points and regulations adopted.

After welcoming speeches given by representatives of EBLUL and the host country, Tersea Condeço from the European Commission went on to talk about the importance of the PfD in its contribution to language best practice and emphasized the Commission’s support for regional languages.

Furthermore, Ms Condeço gave some hints at what the forthcoming Commission Communication will contain. She referred to the EU Council of Ministers who met in February for the first time to discuss multilingualism and who clearly supported the idea to promote language learning. This was coupled with a resounding endorsement from an online consultation, where 10 percent of the contributions came from regional or minority language speakers, indicating that the Commission policy on multilingualism has broad support. Finally, Ms Condeço highlighted that “multilingualism acts as a bridge between cultures” and “contributes to prosperity and citizenship”. She said that the new Communication would include discussion of a better use of media and new technologies especially in local communities.

Sonia Parayre, from the Secretariat of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML), discussed the role of the Council of Europe. She underlined that “language policy is a key to building the structures necessary for regeneration”. She said that there are 70 languages recognized by ECRML so far, but there are still problems over their effective implementation.

Among the speakers on the Partnership for Diversity conference, Alex Riemersma, staff member of the Mercator Research Centre, explained how the Charter can be used as a stimulant for the further development of regional and minority languages. On the example of Frisian in the Netherlands, he showed that over the last ten years of implementation of the 48 undertakings from part III of the Charter, which had been signed by the Dutch government, the position of Frisian in the media as well as in education has increased. In particular, in education, the awareness of immersion education and the trilingual school concept has grown. Most important of all, however, is the strengthening of the common responsibility of national and regional government towards the language, in constant dialogue with the civil society.

Source: Eurolang News, September 15, 2008 by Davyth Hicks http://www.eurolang.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3093&Itemid=1&lang=en

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