Press Releases Last strecht in Belgium for campaign to protect cultures and traditions of national minorities in EU Last strecht in Belgium for campaign to protect cultures and traditions of national minorities in EU

Last strecht in Belgium for campaign to protect cultures and traditions of national minorities in EU

László Pesty, the head of the campaign, held a press conference on friday 30th of April to explain what the initiative is about. He also wants to make a final effort to collect as many signatures in the heart of Europe as possible, the last week before closure.

Pesty is an former Hungarian war correspondent, television producer and video reporter who documented the Eastern European regime changes from 1989. He is the founder of the Think tank, the group that is organizing the petition for the rights of national minorities in the European Union. He is also, from his mother’s side, a member of the Sekler community, a Hungarian minority in Romania.


The sixth citizens’ initiative to succeed in the EU

The Initiative needs to collect 1.000.000 signatures within one year. They need a quorum in at least 7 countries to be accepted as a petition for the European Commission. So far, the counter stands on 1.150.000 online signatures, with the required quorum reached in 10 countries. So far, so good, but there could still be a massive road block on the road to victory. Romania filed for annulment in the European court. Yesterday, the trial was adjourned. Pesty is hopeful his efforts will have a positive result. ‘In the history of the European Union, 76 citizens’ initiatives have been launched. 70 have failed. It looks like we will be the sixth to succeed, and the third most successful. We are here in Brussels, because Belgium is still lacking 10.000 signatures to join the other ten European countries that reached the quorum. That would be an important symbolic victory.’


Goals and importance of

The initiative aims to give extra financial support to the different ethnic minorities in the EU. This support should come from the European Cohesion fund, that distributes money to the member states. Pesty wants the support to go directly to the regions, so bypassing the national administrations. ‘They need this in order to survive. In many places, the majority governments distribute money so that minorities receive less. To survive, these minorities need money.’


Pesty emphasizes the importance of the Initiative. ‘In the European Union, 50 million people live as a 1,000-year-old born national minority. This specifically does not include migrants. We are talking about historical ethnic minorities, like the Basques, the Catalans, the Bretons, the Oxitans, the Seekers, the Baltic Russians, the Germans in Denmark, and so on. In many countries, national minorities have difficulties. The first problem concerns the human rights. For example, there are Russian people in the Baltic States who have no citizenship. In Catalonia, there are nine political leaders in prison. The second problem is financial. Some governments give less support, less money, to minority areas than majority regions. In Romania EU money is distributed very “interestingly”. For example, Seklerland receives less money than similar Romanian regions. These national old people therefore need cohesion money directly from Brussels. They need it to develop the economy. They need it to make sure their culture can survive.


Not a political, but a civic matter

The Sign It Europe is not a political initiative. Pesty finds prove for this statement in the simple fact that the campaign has a diverse message, depending on the country or region it is focusing on. ‘In different countries, localists belong to different political tendencies. His friends in Spain are both left-wing and right-wing. But eg in Hungary there are many localists on the right. This varies from country to country. But I think Globalism is now the biggest threat that threatens us. Globalism in politics, economics, globalism in culture. We need right-wing and left-wing localists to come together, against globalism. I think this topic is primarily a civic matter.’


In the end, we will win

Pesty insists on the need to fight the battle for the rights of ethnic minorities. Unlike the skeptics, he believes in his cause and refuses to think it naive to put so much effort into it. ‘I can’t assess our chances, but I know one thing: 33 years ago we had a Communist authoritarian regime in Central and Eastern Europe. That was a tough time, with one-party systems, oppression, and dictatorship. Hundreds of thousands of Soviet soldiers were stationed in Hungary. With tanks, kalashnikovs, everything… And yet we changed the system. If we had been skeptical then, they would still be there. But we won then, And now we will win now.’


Join the campaign at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *