Podcast: Europe’s protection of national minorities

In this podcast, Francesco Palermo reviews current provisions for the protection of national minorities in Europe.

Professor Palermo (photo), Vice-President of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM), looks at the treatment of Roma people, examines the rehabilitation of ideas on “assimilation” and also analyses how Italy is coping with diversity.

“There is a lack of understanding and readiness to accept the fact that Italy is becoming a multi-ethnic country,” he says. “Instead of taking advantage of the opportunities given by this fact, which cannot be changed, stress is put on the security dimension and that this represents a problem for the cohesiveness of the society, which is not true.”

In a wide-ranging review of minority rights protection, Professor Palermo also discusses the future of the FCNM, which is now 15 years old and outlines how he thinks more member states could be persuaded to sign the treaty.

“The first step is a mental step,” he adds. “These countries, in most cases, do make a lot of efforts to deal with their minority issues but the problem is that they do not want to acknowledge officially that they are multi-ethnic. This is the first barrier to overcome.

“Signing the convention is actually a help and not an obstacle to their policies.”

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