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Valdemar Tomaševski in the European Parliament: national minorities’ rights are an important part of human rights

The plenary session of the European Parliament is taking place this week. Most meetings and tasks are organised remotely due to Covid-19. Among the many current issues related to combating the effects of the pandemic, the European Parliament also discussed the state of human rights and democracy and the Union’s policy in this area. Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Chairman of the EAPL-CFA, Valdemar Tomaševski also participated in the exchange of views on these topics.
This week, MEPs will look at Portugal’s priorities as it takes over the Presidency of the Council of the EU for the next six months. They will also deal with the new rules regarding the right of employees to be offline, i.e. the right to rest after work, and the introduction of restrictions on pandemic. In addition, due to the upcoming inauguration and swearing-in of Joe Biden as the President of the United States Parliament will discuss new transatlantic relations with the USA.

But what attracts the greatest interest of MEPs is the state of human rights and democracy, and the European Union’s policy in this area. During the debate, MEPs expressed very serious concerns about lowered standards of democratic and human rights and the restrictions on the exercise of fundamental freedoms caused by the coronavirus crisis. According to the Parliament, this step backwards is caused by the devastating economic and social consequences of the crisis and by using them as a pretext for manipulating state institutions and even as a pretext to organize electoral manipulation. MEPs criticized the suppression of the activities of human rights defenders, in particular political opponents, and the media, including the rights of people and groups exposed to discrimination, such as national and religious minorities, for purposes allegedly related to fighting the pandemic.

MEP Tomaševski also took part in this important for civil liberties discussion, saying that ‘the crisis caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic and the manner in which countries reacted to it, caused, especially in the case of the weakest and most marginalized groups, a reduction in the sense of economic and legal security. This provoked a crisis in international relations. All this significantly undermined the activities related to respect for human rights.’

The leader of the EAPL-CFA called for the rights of national minorities. ‘We should also remember that the rights of national minorities are an important part of human rights, especially autochthonous minorities, and they cannot be limited or violated in any way, and this, unfortunately, is happening in many countries around the world, but also in the European Union. That is why the recent European Minority SafePack initiative, which received the support of over a million citizens and in which Poles from the Vilnius Region actively participated, should become an example of legal solutions in the field of protection of the rights of national minorities in Europe and in the world. Because the right to maintain one’s national, linguistic and cultural identity is an inalienable right.’

The plenary session will last until 21st January.