Friday, March 10, 2006

EU Steps Back, Turkey Allows Native Tongue Broadcasts

By Emre Demir, Strasbourg
Published: Thursday, March 09, 2006

Turkey's Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTUK) have given permission for three local channels to broadcast programs nonstop in Kurdish.

However, several European Union countries prefer the limitation of minority language broadcasts, even though the EU set granting permission for Kurdish broadcasts as a precondition to start full membership negotiations. Greece does not permit Turkish broadcasts, while Denmark and Sweden ended Turkish broadcasting on the state radio in February.

Germany was previously criticized after it approved the report of the Committee of Ministers at the Council of Europe, since it did not allow the required duration of programs broadcast in minority languages.

Several minority groups in France find television broadcasts in their native languages inadequate; with programs broadcast in the Occitan language gaining approval to broadcast 45 minutes a week, and the Catalan language for just five minutes. Weekly broadcasting in Breton, which is common language in northern France, was suspended in February due to a lack of interest. Greece is one of the countries rejecting the contract. The country does not approve the broadcast any minority languages on either television or in radio, even though it is an EU member country. Several languages such as Turkish, Macedonian, and Albanian in particular are spoken in the country.

In the meantime, Turkish radio broadcasts have recently ended in Europe. Weekly Turkish broadcasting on Swedish State Radio was canceled.

"Merhaba" (Hello) radio broadcasting in Sweden for 29 years was closed down "due to the lack of audience;" while Kurdish programs continue to broadcast daily. Denmark is another country ending its Turkish program broadcasts, too.

The Copenhagen government ended Turkish programs broadcast on state radio in early 2006 due to budget cuts.

According to the report prepared by the Council of Europe Regional and Local Democracy Committee, several countries particularly Germany and the Netherlands lack local broadcasting in minority native languages.

The Council called on Greece and France, following harsh policies on minorities, to sign the contract. Turkey has not yet signed the European Regional and Minority Native Language Contract that legally ensures education and broadcasting rights for minority languages in the country. Apart from Turkey, countries also yet to sign the contract are France, Belgium, Greece, and Luxembourg.