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24 Dec, 2022 17:24

EU nation blasts Ukraine over minorities law

Kiev disregarded the Romanian-speaking community and independent experts, Bucharest says
EU nation blasts Ukraine over minorities law

Ukraine’s new law on national minorities has failed to take into account the needs of the Romanian community in the country, the Foreign Ministry in Bucharest said on Thursday, adding that Kiev’s position on the matter “regrettable.” The legislation, adopted earlier this month, was one the EU’s key conditions for beginning accession talks with Kiev.

The Romanian ministry said in a statement that, while the European Commission recommended that Ukraine should be granted EU candidate status, it also insisted that Kiev should reform legislation “regarding the rights of persons belonging to national minorities.”

It went on to say that it “considers it regrettable that the law was adopted in the absence of a new consultation with the Venice Commission,” an advisory body of the Council of Europe, comprised of independent experts on constitutional law.

“It is also regrettable that the law was adopted in the absence of an adequate consultation with the representatives of the Romanian community in Ukraine, as requested by the Romanian side,” the ministry added.

While stating that Bucharest supports Kiev’s “European path” and understands the desire to fast-track this process, the ministry noted that the “untimely acceleration of the legislative process in this field had significantly affected” the dialogue with the representatives of national minorities.

The ministry decried in particular the law’s vague wording on the use of language in education and in the official sphere.

Bucharest urged Kiev to engage with the Venice Commission and follow through on its recommendations, given that the law on national minorities enters in force six months after being passed.

The legislation grants national minorities in Ukraine the right to self-identification, freedom of public associations and of peaceful assembly. It also allows national minorities “privately and publicly, orally and in writing” to speak in their native languages as long as this does not violate the law.

However, it also prohibits “popularization and propaganda” of Russia as well as any efforts that “foster a positive image” of that country. In addition, in recent years Ukrainian authorities have been engaged in a massive campaign to reinforce the standing of the Ukrainian language while discriminating against Russian, which is spoken by a significant portion of the nation's population, and against the languages of other national minorities, prompting massive public backlash.