The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities at the Minority Workgroup meeting of the EP13.02.2015 | European Parliament , protection of minority rights
Astrid Thors, High Commissioner on National Minorities at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe presented the situation of national minorities in Europe at the Strasbourg meeting of the European parliament’s Minority Workgroup on February 12th. The High Commissioner stressed the importance of a definition of national minorities and the need for peaceful diplomatic relations between states in the interest of protecting and applying minority rights.
Astrid Thors pointed out that there are double standard in case of accession states and EU member states and that, usually, after a country becomes an EU Member State, the application of minority protection laws is diminished. This is the so-called Copenhagen dilemma. In her opinion member states should set a much higher standard and show an example in minority policy, which entails coordinated work and supervision.
The High Commissioner presented the activity of her office, encompassing the areas of education, language rights, representation, citizenship, integration via diversity, the integration of Roma communities and inter-state relations. She mentioned that Member States and the institutions have an increasing tendency of treating minority issues as a matter of national security, mainly due to Europeans fighting for the jihadist cause and the crisis in Ukraine. Astrid Thors said: in many countries extreme nationalists have organised themselves into political parties and are getting stronger, thus the OSCE needs to take action and strengthen the role of EU bodies, such as the Agency for Fundamental Rights. The High Commissioner stated that the Council should be involved in minority policy making.
During the meeting, RMDSZ MEP Csaba Sógor pointed out: we must also hear the complaints of minorities, not only the opinion of the Member States and EU institutions when we address the issues of minority rights, rule of law, or fundamental rights.