The main legal documents of the Council of Europe - Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (1995) and the European Charter for Regional or Minorities Languages (1992) have not yet become universally accepted standards. Not all the countries have ratified them and even in those that have done so, restrictive reservations sometimes hinder their operation.
As it was recently stressed in the report on “Minority protection in Europe: best practices and deficiencies in implementation of common standards” (Doc. 12109 ), certain major problems persist. Not infrequently those problems become the cause of not only ethnic, but also social conflicts.
Of particular concern is the fact that, in certain countries, a substantial number of persons belonging to national minorities are not protected by the Framework Convention because they do not have the citizenship of the state party concerned.
One more crucial area for national minorities is the situation in which they can not exercise the rights accorded to them by the European Charter for Regional or Minorities Languages. Due to political changes, certain states promote the majority (official or “state”) language and culture, which in practice is detrimental to persons belonging to national minorities.
The protection of national minorities, the creation of an atmosphere of tolerance and dialogue is a necessary condition for political and economic stability in those countries, in which those minorities live.
The Parliamentary Assembly should instruct the appropriate Committee of the Assembly to investigate the problems mentioned above in order to invite member states of the Council of Europe to ensure that, where it is deemed necessary, additional measures are taken aimed at improving the situation of civil rights of national minorities.