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THE OMBUDSMAN FOR THE BASQUE COUNTRY TAKES  PART IN THE BASQUE LANGUAGE PROMOTION INITIATIVE “EUSKARALDIA” AND RECALLS THE IMPORTANCE OF LANGUAGE RIGHTS DURING THE PANDEMIC

The Office of the Ararteko, the Ombudsman for the Basque Country, will participate actively in this year’s edition of “Euskaraldia”, which will take place from 20 November to 4 December.

Euskaraldia’s main aim is to increase the use of the Basque language (Euskara) by promoting change in people’s language use. In this new edition, apart from individual participation as “ahobizi” (persons signaling their willingness to speak in Euskara by wearing a badge) or “belarriprest” (persons signaling their willingness to be spoken to in Euskara), participation as a group has been enabled, too. Participants may create an “arigune”, a group of persons, for example, within an office, in which the possibility to use Euskara to communicate with each other and with third parties is ensured.

The personnel at the Office of the Ararteko has created six “arigune” in its three offices and thus takes part actively in Euskaraldia.

The Ararteko’s Office sees initiatives like Euskaraldia as a fundamental step towards the normalization of Euskara and as an IALC member, the Ararteko is keen to promote Euskaraldia internationally, too.

On a different note, the Ararteko is concerned by the disregard of language rights during the pandemic. The Ararteko has been made aware of the fact that certain public services have ignored the public’s right to be served in Euskara during the past months.

The Ararteko recalls that the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts of the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages sounded the alarm about the importance of the use of local languages during the pandemic. The right to use, and to be served, in the official language of one’s choice can never be considered second-class.

Language rights are an integral part of the delivery of quality public services, particularly in the area of healthcare, where proximity, trust and care are essential. Therefore, the Ararteko emphasizes the right to communicate, in our bilingual Basque society, in Euskara as well as in Spanish.

The Ararteko strongly affirms public authorities’ duty to ensure that all messages relating to the pandemics and to the situation of emergency are delivered in Euskara and Spanish so that linguistic rights are not relegated to a second place.