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Brussels: Language law should be adopted 'with broad consensus'

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Aug. 9, 2012, 5:04 p.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine

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.
© Ganna Bernyk

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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