ANTONI Mir, the president of the OCB, a cultural organisation which defends the use of Catalan, yesterday expressed concern that the language could be dealt a mortal blow by the policies of Balearic leader Jaume Matas and his government. He said yesterday that if the government “continues along the same lines as it has been doing for the past 60 days, it could deal a mortal blow to the Catalan language”. At a Press conference, Mir took stock of the first two months in power of the Balearic government controlled by the Partido Popular following the elections of 25 May. He commented that he hasn't needed the traditional 100 days grace to make an evaluation of the policies of Jaume Matas. The trend was made clear, Mir claims, by “deep-rooted attacks on the Catalan language” and by “the hostile atmosphere” created by members of the new government's cabinet. The “conclusions” that Mir has arrived at concerning the health of the Catalan language have, for him, been a source of “concern”. He believes the commitment to the use of Catalan in the Balearics is starting to “pedal backwards”, and is being “aggravated” by the “demographic change” that the Islands are undergoing. According to the OCB president, the Catalan language needs to be protected at a governmental and legal level, stipulating a required minimum usage. Although its survival cannot be guaranteed, lack of such support will endanger the language's continued usage. The new government's attitude has also concerned the vice-president of OCB, Joan Gelabert, who has been particularly alarmed over statements made by the Head of the Civil Service, José María Rodríguez and the Head of Education and Culture, Francesc Fiol. Gelabert rejected new, less demanding guidelines that have been laid down for government employees regarding the level of use of Catalan because it's clear that “the upkeep of the language is not a priority”. He defended the right of the citizens of the Balearic islands to be represented by public workers who dominate equally both Catalan and Spanish. Commenting on school education conducted in Catalan, Gelabert said that Fiol's worries over the fact that pupils are leaving secondary schools on the Islands without being able to express themselves properly in Spanish have no justification. Gelabert claims the normal state of affairs is exactly the opposite. The president of the Voltor association (a television network body), Ferran Gomila, advocated the creation of a regional television station exclusively in Catalan, although it became clear that not all island municipalities were in favour of backing a Balearics' station at the expense of their own local stations. He also considered it viable to set up bilateral agreements with Valencia and Catalonia so that they can receive the Balearic TV channel of the future as part of a cultural exchange. For years, the Balearics have been able to receive the TV stations of these two Communities.

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