MINELRES: CoE FCNM: Georgia: early publication of the first cycle opinion and comments

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Mon Oct 12 19:38:41 2009


Original sender: Nicola Markes-Goerlach <Nicola.MARKES-GOERLACH@coe.int>


RECENTS NEWS
ON
THE FRAMEWORK CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION OF NATIONAL MINORITIES
(fcnm)

12/10/2009
Georgia: early publication of the first cycle opinion and comments

The Opinion of the Council of Europe Advisory Committee on the Framework
Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) on Georgia
has been made public by the Government. The Advisory Committee adopted
this Opinion in March 2009 following a country visit in December 2008. 

Summary of the Opinion:

"The Advisory Committee welcomes the fact that the ratification of the
Framework Convention has triggered a debate in Georgia and that
discussion is continuing in connection with the introduction of a more
comprehensive legislative framework for the protection of national
minorities. It hopes that, as a result of this debate, Georgia will be
able to devise a legislative framework for the protection of national
minorities and introduce an open, comprehensive, long-term policy making
it possible to respond appropriately to existing and future needs, in
accordance with the principles set out in the Framework Convention. It
is important that persons belonging to national minorities are fully
involved in this debate. The Advisory Committee notes with satisfaction
that the Government has stressed the need to promote tolerance and
integration, and hopes the draft Concept on tolerance and civic
integration will be swiftly adopted and effectively implemented.

The Advisory Committee encourages the Georgian authorities and all the
parties concerned, to step up their efforts and to take an open and
constructive approach in order to find as soon as possible a just and
lasting solution to the conflict over South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as the
conflict is adversely affecting the implementation of the Framework
Convention throughout the entire Georgian territory. In doing so, the
principles enshrined in the Framework Convention must be fully
respected, in order to guarantee the rights of persons belonging to
national minorities.

The Advisory Committee considers that the linguistic rights of persons
belonging to national minorities are still a major challenge facing the
authorities. Whilst they are making efforts to make it easier for those
persons belonging to national minorities who are not familiar with the
Georgian language to learn it, these efforts are far from adequate and
do not constitute an appropriate response to existing needs. Improving
facilities for learning Georgian should therefore be a priority for the
authorities. They should also ensure that the policy of promoting the
Georgian language is not pursued to the detriment of the linguistic
rights of persons belonging to national minorities, the effective
enforcement of which requires more resolute measures, both in the
legislative framework and in its implementation.

In the field of education, the lack of resources invested in tuition
provided in minority languages means that the pupils concerned are not
on an equal footing with other pupils. Moreover, although it takes note
with interest of the reforms undertaken in the Georgian education
system, the Advisory Committee is concerned about their potential
implications for persons belonging to national minorities. In
particular, it is essential to ensure equal access, with no unjustified
obstacles, to higher education for pupils who have studied in minority
language schools. More generally, the authorities should take all the
measures needed to promote full and effective equality for persons
belonging to minorities in the education system. 

Participation of persons belonging to national minorities in the
country's cultural, social and economic life and in public affairs
remains limited, and many of them are isolated from Georgian society.
Their inadequate command of the Georgian language is one of several
factors accounting for their marginalisation. The authorities should
take vigorous measures to remove legislative and practical obstacles to
the participation of persons belonging to national minorities in elected
bodies and in the executive, and allow minorities to be better
represented in the public service. Consultation of representatives of
national minorities by the authorities, particularly through the Council
for Ethnic Minorities, should be more systematic, and the
recommendations and proposals of this unique body representing
minorities should be given all the necessary attention. Moreover, the
Georgian authorities should take more resolute measures to promote the
effective participation of persons belonging to national minorities in
the socio-economic life of the country.

The Advisory Committee is concerned about increased religious tensions,
which are particularly affecting persons belonging to national
minorities. The authorities should make every effort to combat this
phenomenon and, in general, all forms of intolerance based on ethnic or
religious affiliation. It is also necessary to increase efforts to
promote mutual understanding and intercultural dialogue between the
majority population and persons belonging to national minorities, by
means of a balanced policy that takes full account of the rights of
persons belonging to minorities."

The government comments on the Opinion have also been made public.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE VISIT OUR WEBSITE:
http://www.coe.int/minorities


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