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You're reading: Brussels: Language law should be adopted ‘with broad consensus’

BRUSSELS – Brussels officials hope that a post-adoption assessment of Ukraine's law on the principles of state language policy by the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission will clarify if the law complies with the established standards of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

In addition, they believe in the EU that such reforms as the language
law should be adopted “with a broad consensus,” Peter Stano, the
spokesman of EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood
Policy Stefan Fule, told Interfax-Ukraine on Thursday.

“We believe that such reforms as the language law should be adopted
on the basis of a proper inclusive domestic debate and with a broad
consensus,” he said.

Stano added that the European Commission has noted that the Verkhovna
Rada passed the law on the principles of state language policy on July
3.

“We hope that the new working group established by President [of
Ukraine Viktor] Yanukovych will give full consideration to the needs of
all Ukrainian citizens, including those from national minorities, to
ensure that all are able to benefit to the maximum from access to civic
and political life and to social provisions,” he said.

In addition, the European Commission noted that the draft law was
previously examined by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission “which
provided important comments.”

“A post-adoption assessment by the Council of Europe and the Venice
Commission would clarify the compliance of the law with the established
standards, more concretely: standards stemming from the European Charter
for Regional or Minority Languages,” Stano said.

While commenting in general on recent events in Ukraine, in
particular the adoption of the language law, the removal of former
Ukrainian Premier Yulia Tymoshenko and former Interior Minister of
Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko from the party ticket of the united opposition,
and the new charges against Tymoshenko, Stano said that “unfortunately
none of the developments are helping to remove EU’s concerns in relation
to Ukraine.”

“The EU expects Ukraine to deliver on three critical matters. These
are a concrete strategy to redress the effects of selective justice,
including the cases of Yulia Tymoshenko and others, and prevent such
failures from occurring again, preparing and conducting parliamentary
elections in line with international standards, the resumption of
delayed reforms which were already agreed in the joint EU-Ukraine
Association Agenda,” Stano said.

As reported, on August 8 Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych signed
the law on the principles of state language policy and instructed the
Cabinet of Ministers to form a working group for the development of
proposals and improvement of the legislation on use of language in
Ukraine.

The document significantly expands the sphere of use of Russian and
languages of other national minorities in the regions where they are
used by at least 10% of population.

The oppositional political forces claimed that the Verkhovna Rada passed the document with major violations of regulations.

The approval of the document by the parliament triggered a number of
protests across the country. In particular, a hunger strike and a mass
protest were staged near the Ukrainian House in Kyiv following the vote.

Verkhovna Rada Chairman Volodymyr Lytvyn refused to sign the law and
submitted a letter of resignation. However, the Verkhovna Rada twice
held votes of confidence in the speaker, and did not accept his
resignation.

On July 31, Lytvyn signed the law on the principles of state language policy and sent it to the president for signature.

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