Statement of the Deputy Commissioner for the Rights of National Minorities on the occasion of the European Day of Languages
At the initiative of the Council of Europe, on September 26 each year we celebrate the European Day of Languages. As the deputy commissioner for the rights of national minorities in Hungary, I find this day as one of special importance, as it focuses on the linguistic diversity of our continent.
In the countries of Europe, including Hungary, there is a high number of national minorities, who can do their best to preserve their own identities by cherishing their mother tongues. Europe’s colorful linguistic kaleidoscope is made up by over 200 national languages, 24 official EU languages, some 60 regional or national minority languages, as well as several other languages spoken by people who have come here from other parts of the world. The European Day of Languages provides an excellent opportunity for making the European citizens realize how diverse the palette of languages spoken on our continent is, furthermore, we can thus also draw the attention of the public to the importance of linguistic and cultural diversity and language learning.
Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland stressed, on the occasion of this holiday, that the nations of Europe have always been strengthened by having been open to accepting foreign cultures and the representatives thereof. The message to be conveyed by the European Day of Languages is that the diversity of languages spoken on our continent is to be valued; that Europe is a multilingual region where everyone is equally entitled to use their mother tongues and to raise their voices, whichever part of the world they may come from.
The European countries, including Hungary and all its neighbor states, that signed and ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in the framework of the Council of Europe in 1992, undertook to safeguard the language rights of the recognized national minorities that live in their territories, a fundamental element of which endeavor is to ensure that national minority languages are taught in schools, on different levels. On the European Day of Languages, we should highlight that the broadening of education in the national minority languages but at least, the preservation of the opportunities that have already been provided to the individual national minorities are the obligations and the best interests of all the European states which are signatories to the above-mentioned charter.
Dr. Elisabeth Sándor-Szalay, Prof. HC
Professor, Deputy Ombudsman