Breizh – France in denial on linguistic rights
The outcome of the first ‘regional’ language debate at the French Parliament on Wednesday (7th May) was predictably disappointing and the Government used it as an opportunity to reaffirm its authoritarian position.
The hemicycle at the Assemblée Nationale, where the debate was held, was predictably only a quarter full, as the following day (8th May) was a public holiday in France and most representatives had already returned to their home towns and cities to prepare for the coming festivities. Nevertheless Culture Minister Christine Albanel was present and even took part in the debate.
However, predictably Albanel said that she had no intention of signing any European Charter on behalf of the Government on minority or regional languages or doing anything to promote or protect the ‘regional’ languages of France. The reasons she predictably gave for this was that for France to officially recognise its ‘regional’ languages would be unconstitutional.
She emphasised that, to do this, France would have to amend the current Constitution and argued that this could not be done. In addition, Albanel also insisted that if the ‘regional’ languages were officially recognised, everything would need to be translated and the costs for this would be too high. What Albanel predictably failed to mention is that the French Constitution is amended on a regular basis to accommodate European laws and treaties and the French Government happily cover the cost of translation from other state languages into French at a EU level, even though some of these languages have far less speakers than the unrecognised languages in the French state.
Not wanting to let the public down, Albanel promised ‘un texte de loi’ (text of law) regarding the ‘regional’ languages, which will predictably state that France’s Constitution and its Republican principles are the last point of reference for the ‘regional’ languages and sets the limits. She reminded the Assemblée that current legislation and regulations do not hinder the development of the ‘regional’ languages, but she predictably failed to mention that it does nothing to help them either.
Jeunes l’Union Démocratique Bretonne (UDB youth) political activist, Gael Briand, was invited to take part in the televised debate, via a live webcam link from his home in An Oriant/Lorient in Breizh/Brittany. He was contacted by an employee of the LCB Assemblée Nationale TV channel to take part in the debate after seeing Mr Briand’s blogsite and he was asked to be the ‘Breton voice’. Speaking to the Celtic League yesterday following his participation, Mr Briand said :
« I’m really not optimist about the fact France could sign the charter. What a pity for France. »
It is indeed disappointing for everyone that more wasn’t made of this unique opportunity to further the linguistic rights of all peoples within the borders of France, by the French state.
The Celtic League and other campaigners will continue their struggle with the French state and no matter how long it takes we will achieve respect and recognition for the Breton language. We are undaunted by the obduracy exhibited by the French establishment whose refusal to grant parity of treatment to linguistic minorities is indicative of fear not strength !