• The Protocol lists 180 measures that should be taken to ensure language rights
  • Groups and individuals supporting minority languages from all over Europe have been invited to the presentation at the Kursaal Palace on the 17th of December

The final meeting of the Organising Committee for the Protocol to Ensure Language Rights was held today at Donostia’s San Telmo Museum. The process that began on the 31st of March, 2015 has come full cycle, and the commitments that were undertaken at that time have been fulfilled, it was declared at the noon press conference. The sponsors of the project were also present, speaking on behalf of whom Paul Bilbao, general secretary of Kontseilua, and Xabier Paya, director of the cultural programme of Donostia 2016, together with the speaker representing the Organising Committee, took stock of what has been achieved.

Xabier Paya said the Protocol was in line with the working style of Cultural Capital projects. “The process of developing the Protocol involved the whole society,” said Paya, “including individuals, civil entities, academies and public bodies. It is an initiative of social entities, and both they and other individuals have made outstanding contributions to the document’s development; a committee of experts comprising academy members and specialists in the field have made sure that the Protocol text is pertinent, accurate and feasible; and a project has been brought to fruition before the year’s end which would not have been possible without funding from public bodies through the Donostia 2016 Foundation.”

Paya also observed that the Protocol is an aid for understanding the issue of language diversity from an international perspective: “Like the European Capital of Culture, the Protocol will help to put work in support of the Basque language in Europe’s multilingual context. It will form part of the legacy of the European Capital programme and a permanent reminder of the necessity for Europe to seek an equilibrium which ensures the rights of speakers of all languages: the Donostia Protocol.”

The spokesman for the European Capital of Culture programme said that in the course of the project to develop the Donostia Protocol links between the entities involved had been forged and strengthened: “The process of creating the Protocol has served to reinforce the network connecting many language communities working in one way or another for language rights, and has demonstrated that proper management of language diversity is an essential issue in improving coexistence in Europe.”

Paul Bilbao said the course of the past almost two years has been “extremely fruitful” and expressed his thanks to the organisations constituting the Organising Committee for the work they have done and their support for the project. In his words, “it is they who have confided in the social entities and enabled their empowerment.” Bilbao also praised the quality of the work done by the Scientific Committee on the Protocol.

He explained that now that the Protocol is complete it will be returned to all the European social entities for them to ratify the document, since that is what will give it true validity. Paul Bilbao told those present: “The Protocol offers entities working in the field of language rights a common ground so that they can all proceed along the same route.” He expressed the hope that this new move will prove productive and that the Donostia Protocol will be a useful work tool for groups all over Europe.

Speaking on behalf of the Organising Committee, Tommaso Nodari explained: “The Organising Committee’s job was to put into motion a participatory process which would bring to bear input from social entities from all over Europe working for the recovery of minority languages. We had to draw up a document to propose specific measures making it possible for languages in disadvantageous situations to attain a situation of equality, which would contribute to peaceful coexistence and give protagonism to language communities and social entities.”

The Organising Committee also proposed the wording of measures based on suggestions from social entities and brought together the Scientific Committee which would develop the Protocol text, a process which concluded last week.

In Tommaso Nodari’s opinion, the targets have been met and “our former responsibilities have now been transformed into results. We have fulfilled our function, and it is our great pleasure to leave to the social entities something that belongs to them.”

They have announced that they will be present at the event to present the Protocol on the 17th of December, calling on individuals and delegates from groups and organisations working in support of minority languages throughout Europe to attend.

Statement of the Organising Committee
2016, october the 25th