EBLUL report: Basque language situation in Nafarroa ‘very worrying’
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Publié le 25/01/04 18:15 -- mis à jour le 00/00/00 00:00

by Alexia Bos Solé & Johan Haggman

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Launching a new report on the situation of Basque in Nafarroa on Monday European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages (EBLUL) President Bojan Brezigar told a press conference in Pamplona that the situation is "very worrying" and that Navarre is the only case in Europe where there has been an actual decline in linguistic rights. He added that Basque should be considered part of the cultural heritage of all citizens of Navarre independent of the person's mother tongue.

EBLUL visited Navarre on the 28th of March last year to examine recent measures taken by the government of Navarre concerning the Basque language.

They met with the former president of the Parliament Mr José Luis Castejón Garrués, the Director for linguistic policy and universities of Navarre, Mr Pedro Pegenaute, and representatives of most Basque NGOs active in the fields of language and culture in Navarre. The new report is based on the interviews held and material received from these people.

EBLUL made five recommendations: that the Basque language should not be politicised; positive discrimination for Basque; the set-up of an interdepartmental administrative body that would concentrate the efforts and initiatives taken in the promotion of Basque and the implementation of the language policies according to the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages.

EBLUL also discussed the need to normalise relations with organisations that work to promote Basque in Navarre and the importance of offering those in the so called "zona no vascofona" the possibility to study in Basque. There are four ikastolas (Basque medium schools) in this zone which lack official recognition and should be given a legal status.

In an interview in Radio Nacional de España (Spanish national radio) Mr Pedro Pegenaute reacted against the report asserting that it 'clearly prejudges' the linguistic situation in Navarre. Regarding the circumstances of Euskera he stated that 'we have enough surveys about what Navarre people think, and I can assure you that the 90% of Navarre people basically and absolutely agree on the measures that the government of Navarre has been applying'. Pegenaute said that he is part of the 85% of Navarre people who 'love respect and defend’ what he calls 'vascuence'.

Pegenaute described EBLUL as having ‘absolutely nothing to do with Brussels, except that they live in a street there'.

Speaking to Eurolang Mr. Julen Urbiola, director of the Fundación Euskara Kultur Elkargoa, said that ‘hard won Basque language rights were being lost'. Urbiola explained how a person living in one area of Nafarroa has some specific linguistic rights, whereas if the same person went to Iruñea (Pamplona) they would have fewer linguistic rights as it is in a mixed linguistic zone.

According to Urbiola, 'this contravenes the European Charter of Regional or Minority Languages'. He added that 'Euskera is not just the heritage of the speakers of Euskera; it is the heritage of all the people of Navarre'

Eurolang? is a specialist niche news agency covering topics related to lesser-used languages, linguistic diversity, stateless nations and national minorities within the European Union. It provides an expanding on-line daily service across Europe, to NGOs, the media, European, State and local government, academia, researchers and the general public. The purpose of Eurolang is to provide, on a daily basis, relevant and current news about Europe's regional, stateless and minority language communities, numbering some 46 million speakers, to the general public and to national and regional media (newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, internet media) in Europe and worldwide.
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