Denmark’s parliament will allow the use of minority languages, Greenlandic and Faroese, spoken in the Kingdom of Denmark, but those who wish to speak in their native tongue will have to translate their speeches into Danish themselves, the parliament announced on Thursday.
Greenland and the Faroe Islands are autonomous territories within the Kingdom of Denmark with their own governments, legislatures and a significant degree of self-government. As such, Greenlandic and Faroese are recognised as official languages alongside Danish in their respective regions, but until Thursday, they were not represented in the Danish parliament in Copenhagen.
Now, however, elected members of parliament in Greenland and the Faroe Islands will be able to speak Greenlandic and Faroese in the parliament’s chamber, the parliament’s praesidium, also known as Folketing, announced in a press release on Thursday.
However, those wishing to speak before parliament in those languages will have to translate their speeches into Danish themselves.
“One of the reasons is purely practical,” said the chairman of the Danish parliament.
“We would have to rebuild the Folketing at a cost of over 40 million DKK (€5.3 million), and if we were to adopt the full model, it would cost an additional 200 million DKK a year. That’s too expensive,” he said, adding, “We do not have enough interpreters, even if we had the money”.
But Markus E. Olsen, a deputy from Greenland’s Social Democratic Party, Siumut, said the Folketing should follow the same model as Greenland’s parliament, where simultaneous interpretation is provided.”I have a way with words in my mother tongue that is much better than when I speak Danish,” said Olsen.
This is a recurring debate in the Danish Folketing, and the Greenlandic party Siumut has consistently lobbied for the possibility of speaking in their mother tongue in parliament.
“I am elected from Greenland. Greenland is a separate constituency. I campaign in Greenlandic. But I cannot represent my people in the Folketing chamber in Greenland’s official language,” Siumut MP Aki-Matilda Høegh-Dam told the press in May after a debate where she spoke Greenlandic, much to the Folketing’s surprise.
Under the new rules, Greenlandic and Faroese MPs will be given extra money to hire their interpreters, although the parliament’s chairman admitted that it might be difficult to arrange this before the opening debate on Tuesday.
“You probably won’t have time to have your own interpreter, but if you want to make your speech in Greenlandic and not in Danish, we will ensure that it is translated and made available to the individual member of parliament when the speech is made in the Folketing,” he said.
Lawmakers broadly supported the historic decision to allow Faroese and Greenlandic, with the far-right Danish Democrats’ Karina Adsbøl being the only MP to oppose it.
“I believe that if you are elected to the Danish parliament, you speak Danish – and if you stand on the Folketing’s podium, you naturally speak Danish. Therefore, I do not understand the need for this change at all,” she wrote in a statement.
(Charles Szumski | Euractiv.com)
Read more with EURACTIV
Belgium wants EU migration plan adopted by end of Council presidency