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   Posted by Barek Swiderek on 06/21/03 at 8:55 PM

Subject:   Polish Census hailed as major boost for Silesian nation


Message Posted

Brussels, 18.6.03

Polish Census hailed as major boost for Silesian nation

Official figures published this week by the Polish Central Statistics Office show that Silesians are the country's biggest national minority. This represents a major success for EFA member party Ras Autonomii Slaska (RAS) - The Silesian Autonomy Movement - which has long campaigned for official recognition of the Silesian nation in Poland. The Polish government has for many years sought to deny the existence of the Silesian nation and these results come despite reports of census enumerators refusing to accept Silesian as a declaration of nationality and of local officials changing 'Silesian' to 'Polish' on people's census forms.

Silesians now represent Poland's biggest national minority of some 173,200 people (followed by Germans - 152,000 and Belarussians - 48,700).

The results have been welcomed by EFA President Nelly Maes MEP (Spirit - Flanders).

Nelly Maes MEP said:

"Official recognition of the Silesian nation by the Polish government is long overdue. These census results are a major success in the campaign for Silesian regional autonomy and for RAS, the leasing regional autonomy movement in Silesia. When such a large number of people choose to define themselves as Silesian - despite massive state pressure to the contrary - this surely sends a clear signal to the Polish government that regional autonomy for Silesia is now firmly on the political agenda.

This is particularly true within the context of an enlarged EU where the rights of minorities will, we hope, be enshrined within the new European constitution. This is great news and a tremendous boost for the Silesian Autonomy Movement in the run-up to the 2004 European Elections".

Ends

Note:

The full results in respect of national minorities in Poland are:

Silesians 173 200
Germans 152 900
Belarussians 48 700
Ukrainians 31 000
Roma 12 900
Russians 6 100
Lemko 5 900
Lithuanians 5 800
Kashubs 5 100
Slovaks 2 000
Jews 1 100
Armenians 1 100
Czechs 800


Bartlomiej Swiderek
EFA in the European Parliament
PHS 2 C 25
Rue Wiertzstraat
B-1047 Bruxelles
tel: 0032 (02) 284 36 14
fax: 0032 (02) 284 17 71



  

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