Europe’s fundamental value lies in its “indigenous national minorities”, Zsolt Németh, the head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said. The Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities is of key importance when it comes to safeguarding minority rights, Németh told MTI by phone on the sidelines of a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg. National minorities make up a special group in Europe and their members deserve special treatment, Németh said, stressing that national minorities should not be conflated with members of other minority groups. Németh said Elvira Kovács, an ethnic Hungarian politician from Serbia’s Vojvodina region, had presented to the assembly a comprehensive report on minorities aimed at monitoring compliance with the CoE’s minority protection convention more effectively. The document contains specific recommendations and proposes the creation of an online platform for reporting violations of minority rights. Kovács’s report also covers the situation of minorities in Ukraine and expresses concern over the rise of nationalism in the country, he said.
Speaking about her report, Kovács told MTI that the preservation of Europe’s cultural diversity was a guarantee of peace and stability on the continent. Concerning the situation in Ukraine, she said it was “unacceptable” to curb minority rights on the pretext of needing to improve public proficiency in the national language.
Hajnalka Juhász, an MP of Hungary’s co-ruling Christian Democrats, said in her address to the assembly that it was “regrettable” that the European Union “doesn’t devote enough attention” to the issue of protecting minorities. The protection of minority rights should not be seen as a threat to national security, she said.