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Czech amendment would make it easier for minorities to ask for bilingual street signs

12.6.2015 19:16
Bilingual street signs in the Czech Republic. (PHOTO:  Google Maps)
Bilingual street signs in the Czech Republic. (PHOTO: Google Maps)

If a proposed amendment passes, groups representing the interests of national minorities that have been active on the territory of a particular municipality for at least five years will be able to request bilingual street signs. Passage would also mean the Czech Interior Ministry would be able to intervene in territorial disputes between municipalities.

Currently there are about 30 such disputes underway throughout the country. The Committee for Public Administration has recommended that the lower house pass the Government-proposed amendment to the law on municipalities and related laws without alteration.  

In the Czech Republic, bilingual street signs exist mainly in Silesia, where a significant Polish minority lives. There are both Czech and Polish street names on signs in the town of Český Těšín, for example.

Currently municipalities are obligated to undertake such signage if at least 10 % of the inhabitants of a municipality, per the most recent census, have stated their foreign nationality, requested such signage from the relevant committee, and had their proposal approved by the municipal council. The amendment would require municipalities to post signage in the language of a national minority if that request is made by a group representing minority interests.

The Czech Interior Ministry would also be able to make decisions in administrative proceedings about territorial disputes between municipalities that have arisen, for example, during their division or merger. Currently such municipalities must agree to settle such disputes themselves, which is complicated in some cases.

ČTK, čon, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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