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Ukraine’s Parliament passes national minorities law, addressing EU recommendations

Ukraine’s parliament passed a law on protecting national minority rights, meeting one more of the seven recommendation from the EU for candidate status.
The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament. Credit: Getty Images
Ukraine’s Parliament passes national minorities law, addressing EU recommendations

Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada passed the national minorities law on 21 September, legislation mentioned among the European Commission’s recommendations for granting EU candidate status, deputy Yaroslav Zhelezniak reported.

318 out of 404 lawmakers supported the bill in its entirety.

The explanatory note to the document states it amends the “Law on National Minorities (Communities) of Ukraine” to:

  1. Enshrine an updated definition of “national minorities (communities)” based on an inclusive approach compliant with the 1995 Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
  2. Provide state guarantees for free textbooks, including e-books, for national minority students completing general secondary education, as the Cabinet of Ministers determined.
  3. Allow the use of minority languages in advertising, public events, emergency assistance, domestic violence support, and care homes.
  4. Clarify the criteria for developing methodology on using minority languages in settlements where minorities traditionally reside or comprise a significant share of the population.
  5. Define terms like “specialized bookstores established to realize the rights of national minorities (communities)” and “support.”
  6. Specify how settlements where national minorities traditionally live or make up a large portion of the population will be designated.

The document states Ukraine’s constitution obliges the state to support minorities’ ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious identity. Protecting minority rights demonstrates a democratic state and society overall.

“In accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of Ukraine, the state must promote the development of the ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity of the national minorities of Ukraine. An adequate level of protection of the rights and freedoms of persons belonging to national minorities is a sign of democratic development of both the state itself and society as a whole.”

On 12 June, the Venice Commission published a critical assessment of Ukraine’s minority law, with most recommendations on minority language use under Article 10. It urged extending the right to hold minority language events to all people and removing or reconsidering the requirement to provide Ukrainian translation.

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