November 15, 2016
The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) has issued a letter of support for a petition by Mr Ilhan Kyuchyuk MEP (ALDE), demanding the overturn of a bill recently passed by the Bulgarian government which provides the total ban of the use of languages other than Bulgarian during electoral campaigns. This ban is not only discriminatory, but also in breach of several European Union treaties Bulgaria has signed, and which aim at protecting linguistic diversity and minority rights. UNPO urges the Bulgarian government to reconsider its position, to amend the legislation, to allow the use of other languages, and, in general, to ensure the freedom of expression of all candidates and democratic elections for all voters.
To download the Letter of Support, please click here.
Object: Letter of Support for Multilingualism in Bulgarian electoral campaigns
In Bulgaria, during electoral campaigns, candidates and their supporters are only allowed to use the Bulgarian language, no matter what their mother tongue is, nor which audience they are addressing. Violations of this norm are severely fined.
The ban on the use of other languages is in violation of several European Union treaties, of which Bulgaria is a signatory, including the Treaty of Lisbon’s articles protecting the rights of minorities and the linguistic diversity of the European Union. Furthermore, the Charter of fundamental rights of the European Union establishes that EU member states must respect freedom of expression, while prohibiting discrimination based on language, as does the Council of Europe’s European Convention on Human Rights. All these documents make it clear that everyone must be allowed to freely use their mother tongue in their private and public life. Furthermore, no one can be punished for using a certain language.
The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) condemns this unjustified limitation and discrimination and encourages the government of Bulgaria to amend its legislation to allow the use of other languages during electoral campaigns.
In January 2016, Mr Ilhan Kyuchyuk MEP tabled a petition to the Committee on Petitions (PETI) of the European Parliament to address this discriminatory ban on the use of languages. UNPO stands in support of Mr Kyuchyuk’s action based on the principle of freedom of expression during electoral campaigns, for democratic elections are inseparable from the free circulation of political opinion and information in languages understandable by all citizens and voters.