Czech MP tells Culture Ministry to increase funding for publications in national minority languages
Last week Czech MP Markéta Pekarová Adamová (TOP 09) interrupted regular procedure in the lower house to raise the matter of subsidies for periodicals serving national minorities. She said she was alarmed by the fact that the amount of funding for the program has not been increased in five years and believes increasing the financing for the program would be a justified move.
Czech Culture Minister Antonín Staněk was not present in the lower house when she made her interpellation and is said to be preparing a written response. The MP warned that the subsidies for the program have stagnated at less than CZK 21 million [EUR 817 000] for the last five years.
The costs of publishing print periodicals, according to the MP, are growing, and the stagnating subsidies are causing existential dilemmas for the minority presses. "Ten years ago that subsidy was as high as CZK 30 million [EUR 1.2 million]. After the economic crisis it was significantly cut, then fluctuated, and during the last five years it has stagnated at an amount of less than CZK 21 million. The aim of this support from the state budget is to create conditions for national minorities to disseminate and receive information in their own languages. The right of national minorities to disseminate and receive information in their native languages is anchored in Section 13 of the National Minority Rights Act," she said during her interpellation.
"I am of the opinion that currently, when the Czech economy finds itself in good condition and the number of members of national minorities in the Czech Republic is growing, it would be justifiable to again increase this subsidy," the MP told the Culture Minister. The state annually finances such periodicals as part of its Program to Support the Dissemination and Reception of Information in National Minority Languages.
The projects submitted to that program are assessed by a 13-member commission including 11 national minority representatives. The Czech Government Council on National Minorities proposes the commission members.
The awarding of the subsidies, however, is decided by the Culture Ministry, because the commission is just an advisory body to it. The highest amount of funding, more than CZK 5 million [EUR 195 000] was awarded in 2018 to support the Polish-language magazine "Glos", published by the Congress of Poles in the Czech Republic.
"Russian Word" (Ruské slovo) magazine received CZK 1.75 million [EUR 68 000], the German-language "Country Echo" (Zemské echo) received more than CZK 1.4 million [EUR 54 450], while the fourth-highest subsidy goes to the Slovak-language "News of the Slovaks and Czechs" (Listy Slovákov a Čechov) at more than CZK 1.3 million [EUR 50 000]. The program also supports four Romani periodicals: Kereka (CZK 1.05 million - EUR 40 000), the monthly Romano voďi (CZK 880 000 - EUR 34 000), the biweekly Romano hangos (CZK 849 000 - EUR 33 000) and the academic journal Romano džaniben (CZK 440 000 - EUR 17 000).
FULL INTERPELLATION BY Czech MP Markéta Pekarová Adamová (TOP 09)
Dear Mr Minister who is not present,
Representatives of national minorities have turned to me about the matter of the subsidies for national minority periodicals. Such subsidies were as high as CZK 30 million a decade ago.
After the economic crisis, the amount was cut significantly, then fluctuated, and for the last five years has stagnated at an amount of less than CZK 21 million. The aim of this support from the state budget is to create conditions for national minorities to disseminate and receive information in their own languages.
The right of national minorities to disseminate and receive information in their native languages is anchored in Section 13 of the National Minority Rights Act. For this purpose, the state provides subsidies from the state budget, as regulated by paragraph 2 of that section.
Even though the stagnation of the subsidies does not represent a denial of the right of these national minorities, I believe that at present, when the Czech economy is in good shape and the number of members of national minorities in the Czech Republic is growing, it would be justifiable to again increase this subsidy. In a situation where the costs for publishing print periodicals are growing, these stagnating subsidies are pushing the national minority presses into constantly-increasing existential dilemmas.
Dear Mr Minister, I am taking advantage of this opportunity to bring this fact to your attention and to ask your opinion about this issue. Thank you.
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