Council of Europe calls for more action to support for Finland’s minority languages

The CoE's expert committee looked at how well Finland is implementing recommendations to boost, preserve or revitalise a number of minority languages.

Flags outside Finlandia Hall for the Council of Europe Ministerial meeting, 17th May 2019 / Credit: News Now Finland

The Council of Europe says it wants to see more support for several of Finland’s minority languages – despite progress that’s been made for other languages.

The Strasbourg-based organisation published its evaluation report this week on how Finland has been implementing the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages – and to see if there was positive progress since the last report in 2018.

The report expresses “regret” that Finnish authorities have not undertaken or reported on any new measures to implement recommendations that boost support for Karelian, Russian, Tatar or Yiddish language minorities.

And when it comes to Finland’s other minority languages there’s a mixed report card.

For the three Sámi languages – Skolt Sámi, Inari Sámi and Northern Sámi – there’s recommendations to increase awareness and tolerance in education and the media; and to strengthen teacher training in Sámi languages especially for subject teachers. There’s also a recommendation to ensure the use of Sámi languages in state and local administration including health and social services.

The Council of Europe says more needs to be done to safeguard Finland’s Sámi languages, and it will require long-term funding to keep them sustainable.

When it comes to Swedish, the committee wants to make sure that language rights of Swedish speakers are preserved in any new reforms to social and health care, known as sote.

There’s a more positive note about Finland’s new National Policy on Roma which includes the development of an action programme for the revitalisation of the Romani language. The Council of Europe experts caution however that any effort need to be implemented in a cohesive way to include establishing an education criteria, training teachers and carrying out pilot projects in schools as well as raising awareness among parents.