Croatia should better promote minority languages in education, administration and media, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers recommended on Tuesday.
The Council made the recommendations based on an evaluation report prepared by the Committee of Experts under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
Czech, Hungarian, Italian, Ruthenian, Serbian, Slovakian, Ukrainian, Boyash Romanian, German, Istro-Romanian and Slovenian languages are covered by the Charter in Croatia and they receive varying degrees of protection, the Committee of Ministers said.
Teaching in or of some minority languages should be in accordance with Models A, B and C.
According to the report, the number of weekly hours of teaching a minority language or in a minority language is “insufficient”. For example, Model C foresees two to five hours a week but is often reduced to only two.
The history of minority languages and culture are taught through the subject Civic Education, “but it is unclear how this is done in practice.”
There is interest in education in German and Italian in additional municipalities, but Istro-Romanian is not taught and because this language is “severely endangered”, it should urgently be introduced in education, according to the report.
Although some minority languages, such as Italian, are present in the public domain, the other minority languages should be made “more visible in the linguistic landscape” and be used more often in the public domain.
“In the case of Serbian, the Cyrillic script is not sufficiently used by municipalities and in signage.”
As far as media are concerned, two weekly programmes on state television, “Prizma” and “Manjinski mozaik”, offer content in and about minority languages, the report said. “However, the limited duration, the lack of regularity of the use of particular languages and the absence o some minority languages hamper the fulfilment of this undertaking.”
“While newspapers in some minority languages exist, articles in the other relevant minority languages should be published at least once a week, including online,” the report said.
The recommendations call for the introduction of minority languages “in equal and official use” in more municipalities where a sufficient number of minority language speakers live, and they should be used in the work of relevant regional and local authorities as well as by local branches of the state authorities.
The Committee of Ministers invited the Croatian authorities to submit a report on the recommendations by 1 March 2023.