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Fidesz MEPs: Ukraine’s minority law not yet fully in line with European norms

Ukraine's new law on ethnic minorities contains numerous legal guarantees, but it is still "not entirely in line with European and international norms of minority protection", MEPs of Hungary's ruling Fidesz said on Thursday, citing a recent position by the Council of Europe's Venice Commission.

The group also noted that, according to the CoE position, the Ukrainian law “does not reflect that country’s international commitments and calls for several changes”.

Experts of CoE repeated earlier criticism of Ukraine’s education act of 2017 and the language law of 2019, which Ukraine’s lawmakers “have not remedied despite pledges”, MEP Andrea Bocskor said in the statement.

The position, she said, “criticises restrictions of the right of minorities to education in their mother tongue and sees the restrictions of the use of the mother tongue as disproportionate”. While promoting Ukrainian as a state language is a legitimate objective, it should be done in a proportionate manner and without curbing the rights of ethnic minorities, she added.

Bocskor said the CoE position had not dealt with such acquired rights of ethnic minorities as ones granted in Ukraine’s 1992 minority law, but which were no longer granted under the 2022 law, including cultural autonomy, free use of national symbols, as well as the right of ethnic minorities to “preserve their life medium in their historical or current homeland”.

Bocskor welcomed Ukraine’s one-year postponement of the application of a section of the law concerning minority schools in light of the Commission’s position. “This, however, does not mean that the problem has been fully resolved,” she said, adding that she hoped that the issue could be settled during Ukraine’s EU accession process”.

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