The june 2012 opinion of the venice commission of the council of europe on the act on the rights of nationalities of Hungary. Presentation and assessment

Author:Bogdan Aurescu
Position:Lecturer, Ph.D., Faculty of Law, University of Bucharest. Substitute member of the Venice Commission on behalf of Romania
Pages:166-179
166 Lex ET Scientia. Juridical Series
LESIJ NO. XIX, VOL. 2/2012
THE JUNE 2012 OPINION OF THE VENICE COMMISSION
OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE ON THE ACT ON THE RIGHTS
OF NATIONALITIES OF HUNGARY.
PRESENTATION AND ASSESSMENT
Bogdan AURESCU
Abstract
The paper undertakes an analysis of the June 2012 Opinion of the European Commission for
Democracy through Law (the Venice Commission) of the Council of Europe on the Hungarian Act
on the Rights of Nationalities of Hungary, adopted in December 2011. The paper approaches this
task having as a reference point the European standards on minority protection, but also the
concrete needs of the Romanian minority of Hungary in preserving and developing its cultural
identity, effort which might be directly affected by the Act. The paper shows that the Opinion of the
Venice Commission acknowledges not only the positive aspects set forth by the Act, but also certain
important shortcomings that have to be redressed by further amending the Act. Among these, inter
alia, one may identify the following: the fact that, being a “cardinal” law, it is quite difficult to
amend it; the fact that it sometimes includes an excessively detailed regulation; that it changes the
terminology from “national minority” to “nationality”, with important consequences on the manner
of projecting the Hungarian interests in connection with the Hungarian minorities abroad (as well as
the fact that the Act consecrates the controversial concept of “collective rights”); it includes a
narrow definition of the “nationality”, thus excluding the new minorities and creating some
difficulties for the Roma, who are not (by tradition) strictly linked to territory; it does not include
sufficient guarantees as to the accuracy of ethnic data collection, especially by censuses; it does not
provide for concrete measures to ensure the verification of the mother tongue knowledge by minority
electors and candidates for self-governments, thus living place for the perpetuation of the
phenomenon of the so-called “ethno-business”; the regulation of education for minorities has a
degree of uncertainty with regard to the stability and continuity of minority education and might
have a negative impact on the parents’ choice as to their children education; it does not address in
an appropriate manner the problem of financing of the media for national minorities, and so on.
Keywords: Venice Commission, kin-minority, promotion and protection of rights of persons
belonging to national minorities, “collective” rights, individual rights, self-government, ethno-
business
Introduction
The European Commission for Democracy through Law, better known as the “Venice
Commission”, adopted, at its 91st plenary session (15-16 June 2012, Venice), its Opinion on the Act
on the Rights of Nationalities of Hungary (hereafter referred to as “the Opinion”).1 The Opinion of
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Lecturer, Ph.D., Faculty of Law, University of Bucharest. Substitute member of the Venice Commission on
behalf of Romania (e-mail: bogdan.aurescu@gmail.com).
1 Opinion on the Act on the Rights of Nationalities of Hungary, adopted by the Venice Commission at its 91st
Plenary Session (Venice, 15-16 June 2012), on the basis of comments by Mr Sergio BARTOLE (Substitute Member,
Italy), Mr Latif HUSEYNOV (Member, Azerbaijan), Mr Jan VELAERS (Member, Belgium), Opinion no. 671/2012,
CDL-AD(2012)011, the official site of the Venice Commission, accessed July 4, 2012, http://www.venice.coe.int/
docs/2012/CDL-AD(2012)011-e.pdf.

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