At the German Bundestag with Minority Representatives

25th anniversary of the EU Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. On March 2, this was debated in the Bundestag. As a journalist, I accompanied the representatives of the Frisians, Danes, Sorbs and Romani people.

The red arrow points at me. (Image source: Parliamentary Television, German Bundestag). My articles on this topic appeared in the Husumer Nachrichten and in the Ostfriesischer General Anzeiger.

It was a security check just like at the airport. It took place at the entrance to the Paul-Löbe-Haus, before we went to the Bundestag. On March 2, the representatives of the autochthonous (long-established) minorities of Germany met here. These are the Frisians, the Danish minority, the Lusatian Sorbs and the Romani people. They all have lived on German ground long before the German state started to exist. Therefore, their cultures and their languages are under special protection.

Gösta Nissen (left) is the head of the Minorities Secretariat. Here he is with some minority representatives on the way to a meeting with politicians. Next to him: Christiane Ehlers (Low German Secretariat), Christoph G. Schmidt (Nordfriisk Instituut) and the politicians Astrid Damerow (CDU/CSU), Linda Heitmann (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), Stefan Seidler (independent).

First, we went to a seminar room. There, the minority representatives made their demands to the politicians. Topics were the protection of the languages and more information to be implemented in German school curriculums. For the Romani poeple, the focus was on questions of equal participation.

Here you can see Oswald Marschall from the Central Council of Romani People. Renate Trischler is sitting next to him. She represents the autochthonous minorities in all of Europe. Her organization is called the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN).

„Altogether, in Europe there are more than 100 million people belonging to autochthonous minorities, while in the EU their number exceeds 50 million. One in seven Europeans is part of an autochthonous minority or speaks a regional or minority language.“ This is said on the FUEN website.

Members of the Bundestag and minority representatives. The three men in front are Renaldo Schwarzenberger from the Central Council of Yenish, Dawid Statnik from the Association of Sorbs/Wends (Domowina) and on the right Karl-Peter Schramm from the Sater Frisians (Seelter Buund). In the back in center with blond hair: Jonas Kopf from the Sydslesvigsk Forening (South Schleswig Association). He represents the Danish minority in Germany.

In addition to the recognized minorities, the Yenish group was also present. They are fighting to be recognized as an autochthonous minority as well. Critics say that they are not an ethnic group, but rather an historically evolved social class.

After the discussion with the members of parliament, the actual debate took place in the Bundestag. Bundestag Vice President Aydan Özoğuz opened the event saying that it could now become entertaining. And indeed, some MPs took the opportunity to speak in one of our minority languages . The video is available here.