Vote in French National Assembly may lead to ratification of the European Charter for Regional Languages
The Occitan Nation Party is delighted that the French National Assembly has just passed a constitutional bill aimed at enabling at last the ratification by the French Republic of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, close to thirty-two years after it was adopted by the Council of Europe and close to fifteen years after France signed it. The Party hopes that the process that has thus started will lead to the ratification of the Charter and the adoption of legislative measures to ensure the defence and the promotion of these so-called “regional” languages, among which, Occitan.
The Occitan Nation Party, however, is concerned that the proposed revision of the French constitution will paradoxically insert restrictive clauses that have hitherto been a matter for the interpretation of the constitutional text, and worsen the contradiction with the principles of "Human Rights" and the right of peoples to"self-determination" clearly asserted in its preamble. Indeed, how is it possible to claim that the equality of all citizens and the rejection of discrimination should stop us from recognizing that language rights are by nature the collective rights of the people within a language community, be that language “regional”? And how should we ensure the promotion of these languages if we assert that the use of French by players and users of public service is imperative? Taken literally, such a clause could justify a ban on the use of Occitan in the rare 3rd television channel programs where it is used or as an everyday language at school (not just as a subject of study) in Calandretas (immersion schools).
The Occitan Nation Party wishes to thank the MPs who questioned these restrictive measures and urges the constituent power to specify that this definition of French as the “language of the Republic” should not be detrimental to necessary goverment action in support of our languages.
Besides, the Occitan Nation Party would like once again to stress that France, when it signed the Charter in 1999, only committed to enforce 39 provisions, out of close to a hundred, which is very close to the required minimum of 35 ; It requests that further committments be made as soon as the Charter is ratified, hopefully soon, and that a language policy be carried out to give strong support to our languages within the framework of an outline law.