MINELRES: Mercator Newsletter - n.28, October 2006

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed Nov 22 21:30:45 2006

Original sender: Mercator <secretaria@ciemen.org>

Mercator Newsletter - n.26, July & August 2006

Mercator-Education (ME)
Mercator-Legislation (ML)
Mercator-Media (MM)

>From January 2005 the Mercator Common Newsletter is a monthly
newsletter. This way you will be kept informed with more recent and
updated information.

- Language Act for Northern Ireland Planned
- Legislation News 
- Media News 

- Book published on Macedonian Minority in Greece 
- Article on minority languages in 23 languages by Mercator Education 

- Support the Euskarabidea initiative to ensure a proper place for the
Basque language

Language Act for Northern Ireland Planned 
Mercator Legislation - ML

October 2006 - The British government will introduce an Irish Language
Act in Northern Ireland to promote the development of the Irish
language, as part of the agreement which emerged from the peace talks in
Saint Andrews, Scotland, on the 13th of October. Furthermore it proposes
a possible bill of rights, which may include language rights. The St
Andrews Agreement states that “the Government will introduce an Irish
Language Act reflecting on the experience of Wales and Ireland and work
with the incoming Executive to enhance and protect the development of
the Irish language”. It also mentions that “The Government firmly
believes in the need to enhance and develop the Ulster Scots language,
heritage and culture and will support the incoming Executive in taking
this forward”. 

The Irish Language Act was one of Sinn Fein’s demands going into the
talks but the Democratic Unionist Party, DUP, is worried about the Irish
Language Act being used as a vehicle to erode Britishness in the region.
Moreover, the DUP has said that they will take all necessary steps to
ensure that money is not ‘wasted’ on Irish language schemes. In contrast
with this statements the SDLP, which lost ground on the last round of
Stormont elections in 2003, has said that “unionist politicians need to
stop using the Irish language as a political football in blatant point
scoring exercises”. 

The promises of new legislation can be considered as an important
achievement for the Irish Language umbrella organisation POBAL, which
has been long campaigning for new legislation. In a document published
earlier in 2006 with the title “The Irish Language Act NI” they proposed
a strong, rights based Irish language Act that would clarify and
strengthen the rights of Irish speakers throughout the north to a range
of Irish language services in areas such as education, the courts and
employment. Janet Muller, Chief Executive POBAL, said that currently,
“there are no domestic legal protections for the Irish language. The
north of Ireland is the only place in British isles where the primary
indigenous language is in this position”. Thus, the document has
certainly revolutionised the debate around the needs of the Irish
speaking community. 

St Andrews Agreement: 
Pobal: “The Irish Language Act NI” and other relevant documents 
The ratification by the United Kingdom of the European Charter for
Regional or Minority Languages
http://www.ciemen.org/mercator/pdf/WP10-def-ang.pdf [^]

News October 2006 (links to the Mercator websites) 

Legislation news - ML
Immigration, Language Rights and Social Cohesion Tackled in Catalonia

Existence of Macedonian Language denied by Greek Authorities

The Duty to Know Basque in Courts Declared Unconstitutional

Young Ethnic Romas Ask for State University in Mother Tongue (Divers
news bulletin)

Language Reform in Turkey Completely Insufficient, Says IHF

Media news - MM
BBC and S4C Announce New Strategic Partnership

The BBC Governors and the S4C Authority (the body regulating the
Welsh-language broadcaster S4C) announced a new strategic partnership on
October 17th for the development of programming and services for Welsh
language television audiences. The governing bodies described the
settlement as a “significant milestone” in the relationship between the
two public service broadcasters. 

The agreement sets out how the BBC will strengthen and extend its
support for S4C over the next three years as the Welsh language channel
implements its programme strategy in the run-up to digital switchover in
Wales in 2009. 

The BBC has a statutory duty to provide S4C with over 10 hours of Welsh
programming each week - made by BBC Wales and funded by the licence fee.
The BBC's current contribution includes the international news service,
Newyddion, and the daily drama, Pobol y Cwm. 

As part of the new strategic partnership, the BBC will: 
- increase its annual spend on programme-making for S4C from just under
?22m in 2006/07 to just over ?25m by 2008/09; 
- increase the number of programmes it produces for S4C. Detailed
programming plans are currently being discussed with S4C; 
- establish a joint planning framework with S4C that details how the two
broadcasters will discuss and agree which programmes the BBC contributes
to S4C; 
- provide, for the first time, BBC Wales-produced programmes on S4C's
broadband and on-demand services; 
- share its annual spending plans with S4C in advance. Hitherto, the BBC
has only published financial information retrospectively in its Annual

The new agreement reflects the provisions of this year's Government
White Paper on the future of the BBC. The agreement also addresses the
challenges set out in the Laughton Report to the Department of Culture,
Media and Sport in 2004 and last year's review of public service
television broadcasting by Ofcom, the UK’s regulatory body for media and
communications. The partnership will also require the BBC Governors and
S4C Authority to develop performance targets and indicators to measure
success for audiences. 

The Chairman of the BBC, Michael Grade, said: “BBC Wales's programmes
have played a major role in the success of S4C for many years. We are
delighted that this new partnership will strengthen and extend the BBC's
contribution. I'm certain Welsh language audiences will reap the

The Chairman of S4C, John Walter Jones, said: “The new partnership
provides a welcome new chapter in the relationship between S4C and the
BBC. We are grateful to the BBC for the extensive support enshrined in
this settlement.” 

The Controller of BBC Wales, Menna Richards, said: “Digital developments
pose enormous challenges and opportunities for all Welsh language media.
By working closely together, in the spirit of this new agreement, the
BBC and S4C stand the very best chance of strengthening and extending
Welsh language services for audiences of all ages.” 

The Chief Executive of S4C, Iona Jones, said: “This is excellent news
for Welsh language audiences who will benefit from the expansion of the
BBC's contribution to S4C on television and on line.” 

Council of Europe publishes Report on indigenous minority languages in

The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers has published the second
report on the situation of indigenous minority languages in Sweden. 

In the report the Council of Europe calls on Sweden to extend the
existing administrative areas for Finnish and Sami, in accordance with
the proposals of the Government Commission for the Finnish and South
Sami Languages set up by the Swedish authorities. 

It recommends that the authorities should also adopt more specific
legislation on minority languages and establish a national agency
responsible for supervising its implementation at the municipal level. 

The report was drawn up by a committee of independent experts (COMEX)
which evaluates the application of the European Charter for Regional or
Minority Languages. 

Further to the report, the Committee of Ministers has adopted a series
of recommendations addressed to Sweden. 

These include : 
- better access to education in minority languages, 
- adoption of innovative measures for the maintenance of the highly
endangered South Sami language, 
- steps to increase awareness and understanding concerning minority
languages in Swedish society at large.

The full text of the report and the Committee of Ministers’
recommendations can be downloaded from the Charter's website:
http://www.coe.int/minlang ("Reports and Recommendations" section). 

Source: Eurolang

Etxepare Euskal Institutua Basque Institute: a tool for the external
dissemination of Basque language and culture

The Basque Government has approved the bill for setting up and
developing the Etxepare Euskal Institua Basque Institute, which will be
responsible for disseminating Basque language and culture in the world,
and has referred this bill to Parliament, so that the relevant legal
procedure may get underway. The purpose of this new law, which will
regulate the setting up and development of the cultural institute under
the name of the writer Bernat Etxepare, thus fulfilling his motto "jalgi
hadi mundura" (open yourself up to the world), is to disseminate and
provide an international profile for Basque language and culture. The
bill to establish the cultural institute and the development of the
Etxepare Euskal Institutua Basque Institute is among the commitments to
legislation on the part of the Basque Government; owing to the
importance of the Etxepare Institute's aims, the Basque Government has
wanted its establishment and development to be governed by parliamentary

The Etxepare Euskal Institutua Basque Institute will be a public entity
governed by private law, with its own legal status and attached to the
Department of Culture, and its aim will be to disseminate and promote
Basque language and culture by taking on work which has previously been
carried out by different bodies in the Basque Government in linguistic
fields (programa euskara munduan, university assistantships) and
cultural ones (literature, the world of publishing, audiovisuals and
fine arts, etc.), in collaboration with different cultural agents and

The Etxepare Euskal Institutua Basque Institute will be set up as a
public entity governed by private law, with its own legal status and
attached to the Department of Culture. The head office of the Etxepare
Euskal Institutua Basque Institute is in Donostia-San Sebastian and new
technologies will play a major role in its work involving the promotion
of Basque language and culture. In any event and in order to fulfil its
aims, the Etxepare Institute will be able to have a network of centres
at its disposal around the world, whereby it may participate - with
prior authorization from the Governing Board - in trading companies,
foundations or non-profit-making entities, where appropriate.

Mercator Media represented at National Forum for Language Minorities in

>From the 5 to the 7 October in Trento, Italy, a National Forum for
Language Minorities was held by the provincial government with the theme
of ‘Communicating Identity’. Mercator Media was represented by George
Jones who paricipated in discussions on the relationship between the
media and language minorities and the image of minorities presented in
the media. The region of Trento is home to speakers of Cimbrian, Ladin
and Mocheno and delegates had the opportunity to visit areas inhabited
by these last two. The conference had a wide international dimension and
included delegates from Friesland, the Basque Country, Asturias and
Wales as well as other regions of Italy.

Islay Gaelic Project launches Website

The project Seanchas Ile based at Ionad Chaluim Chille, the Gaelic
college on the island of Ile (Islay) in the inner Hebrides, has recently
launched a new web site at www.seanchas-ile.net with the aim of
promoting the Gaelic of the island. Seanchas Ile is a two-year project
invloving the gathering and recording of Islay Gaelic from the island’s
people. So far, material gathered includes local stories, songs, poetry
and proverbs along with people’s life stories and accounts of how life
on the island has changed since the beginning of the 20th century. The
web site offers information about the project itself and sound files of
some of the collected material. In addition, there will be transcripts
and translations of every file. There is also a list of Islay Gaelic


Book published on Macedonian Minority in Greece
A book has recently appeared on The Communist Party of Greece and the
Macedonian national problem 1918-1940 written by Ireneusz Adam Slupkov.
More details of content and how to order can be found at
Article on minority languages in 23 languages by Mercator Education
Recently you can find an article on minority languages and
Mercator-Education on our website www.mercator-education.org , which has
been translated into 23 languages. With the article we not only intend
to make a large public aware of the situation of lesser-used languages,
but also inform about the good work that Mercator and Mercator-Education
in particular does. So far the article has been published in some
magazines, if you are interested in using this article yourself, please
feel free in doing so. If you decide to use the text, we would
appreciate an email to mercator@fa.knaw.nl 


Support the Euskarabidea initiative to ensure a proper place for the
Basque language 
A promising future for the Basque language

The signatories of the following declaration are united by our efforts
in support of the Basque language. Notwithstanding the ideological and
political diversity that exists among us, we are all concerned for the
normalisation of Basque and are fully convinced that the present
political occasion represents an important opportunity for the Basque
language to achieve the social position it deserves.

Faced with the ongoing political process, we reiterate the same sense of
optimism with which we have worked to support Basque throughout all
these many years past. Given the political options to guarantee language
rights in the course of the present process and to establish joint
measures to promote Basque language normalisation, we hereby declare our
willingness to spare no effort and bring all our available resources to
bear along the road opening up before us. Therefore, in view of the need
for the whole of society to be committed in the current situation, we
proclaim our commitment and offer our viewpoint.

1. We hereby proclaim our firm commitment to make efforts to support the
process founded upon dialogue and human rights. We believe that as
individuals and social agents we should play an important role in these

2. The solution of the conflict must be based on the individual and
collective rights of the people, among which language rights constitute
a cornerstone since they are necessary in order to ensure a dignified
existence for the individual and the language community, and because
inasmuch as Basques' decisions are to be respected in this process, the
right to normalisation of the Basque language throughout the Basque
Country without outside interference must also be recognised.

3. The centuries-long practice of turning the Basques into a minority
language group must end. We therefore hold that the time has come to do
away with legislation aimed at impeding Basque language normalisation.
Hence for the political process it is necessary to make Basque
normalisation possible, and we all hereby undertake a commitment to work
to support this.

4. This is everyone's concern: we will not shirk our obligation, and
likewise call on each and every participant at each and every stage of
the resolution process to do the same in accordance with their
respective levels of responsibility.

Basque Country, June 2006


We invite all language workers around the world to join us by showing
their support for the Euskarabidea initiative. You may do so by sending
an e-mail message such as the following to: kanpo@behatokia.org

Visit http://www.behatokia.org/ for further

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