In several laws, as well as international treaties, Romania took commitments to guarantee the right of minorities to use their mother tongue in a wide range of areas. This is also emphasized in a recommendation released in March by the Council of Europe, in which the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages draws attention to the importance of the use of regional and minority languages in the official communication of Member State governments during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In spite of these commitments and recommendations, in Romania, official communication relating to the crisis is done exclusively in Romanian, no information is provided in any minority language. Several civil society organizations have voiced their concerns regarding the matter, arguing that minority rights should be upheld in times of crisis as well.
During an online meeting of the Council of Europe Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination on the 29th of April, Erika Benkő, member of the Romanian Parliament and Second Vice-Chairperson of the said committee, informed the group of the total lack of official communication in any of the languages spoken by national minorities in Romania during the Coronavirus pandemic.
“It is extremely important for the Council of Europe to closely monitor the behaviour of Member States towards the various minority communities during the Coronavirus pandemic. In the meeting I informed the committee of the unacceptable situation that characterizes the official government communication in Romania, meaning the total lack of information in minority languages. I emphasized how very important it is for people to understand the measures adopted by authorities in order to curb the epidemic, and for these to be communicated in people’s mother tongue” – explained Erika Benkő.