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NÉMETH: UKRAINE MUST GUARANTEE MINORITY LANGUAGE RIGHTS

Friday, January 27, 2017

Ukraine must ensure that national minorities living in its territory can retain the language rights they currently enjoy, even if the country passes its new language law, Zsolt Németh, head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said in Strasbourg.

Ukrainian lawmakers recently drafted a bill that would criminalise degrading treatment or disrespect of the Ukrainian language in public.

Decentralisation is a key requirement for Ukraine under the Minsk Agreement, but the country must also take into consideration the
region’s ethnic makeup, Németh told MTI after participating in a debate on Ukraine in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg.

He said the recent education and language bills in Ukraine gave cause for concern, adding that approval of the language bill would be a step back for Ukraine.

Németh stressed that the European People’s Party fully supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity and independence. He said it was important to show solidarity towards Ukraine, arguing that the European Union can only expect positive results from that country if its public knows it has Europe’s support.

But he said Europe also has responsibilities towards Ukraine.

The ratification of the Ukraine-EU association agreement and giving Ukraine visa-free status are both crucial steps without which Ukraine will not be able to benefit from European cooperation, Németh said.

(MTVA)

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