European Social Forum: some ‘indifference’ to language issues
by Alexia Bos Solé & Davyth Hicks
After the World Social Forum (WSF) in Porto Alegre and the success of the first European Social Forum (ESF) in Florence, France hosted the second ESF at the weekend near Paris with up to 100,000 in attendance.
The European Social Forum aims to ‘allow social movements, organisations for ‘people without rights’, associations, NGOs, unions, peace movements, citizen movements from Europe other continents, particularly from the Southern Mediterranean, to come together to discuss themes linked to major European issues’.
The Forum dealt mainly with policies with respect to international solidarity to be implemented, the peace and collective world security, the exercise of democracy and citizenship, the content of European economic, social and environmental policies, immigration policy and the access to culture.
The issue of the language and cultural diversity was highlighted with a plenary conference on ‘Cultural and national identities in Europe’. The conference featured Mr. Jon Sarasua representing the Basque organisation Bertsozale in Euskal Herria (Basque Country), Mr. Aureli Argemí, President of the organisation CIEMEN in Catalonia. The Union Démocratique Bretonne also participated in the event, while Mrs. Paula Kasares from the ‘Observatoire des droits linguistiques’ in Euskal Herria, focused on linguistic diversity in the Basque Country.
However, speaking to Eurolang, Aureli Argemí described the general ignorance of issues relating to European stateless and minority languages. ‘A lot of languages and cultures are being persecuted, the good thing about this forum is that even though they usually concentrate on the broader issues of globalisation, in this forum they are focusing on languages’. He criticised many in attendance who gave the impression of being indifferent to linguistic diversity and stateless languages and that he felt that little impact had been made.