Joint action against the educational reforms in Ukraine: Language rights of minorities cannot be restricted

2016. 12. 01.

Press Release by EPP Group MEPs Andrea Bocskor, Svetoslav Hristov Malinov and Traian Ungureanu 

EPP Group MEPs Andrea Bocskor from Hungary, Svetoslav Hristov Malinov from Bulgaria and Traian Ungureanu from Romania in a joint letter to Liliya Hrynevych, Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine, expressed their concern regarding the recent intentions of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine to amend the draft Law “On Education”, which affects the language rights of national minorities living in the territory of Ukraine.

The draft amendments to the law violates the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens of Ukraine, and are in contradiction with international and legal obligations of the country in the field of protection of national minorities. The intention of the Ministry of Education and Science to amend the draft Law “On Education” is discriminatory, as students belonging to national minorities would not be able to use their mother tongue at all levels of education. The proposed amendments are in contradiction with the Copenhagen Document, with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National and Religious Minorities, moreover are contrary to both the spirit and text of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and also Recommendation 1201 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, that were ratified by Ukraine as well.

As Hungarian, Bulgarian and Romanian MEPs we consider it of outmost importance, that the abovementioned amendments to the draft Law “On Education” are violating not only the Ukrainian Law, but also the international commitments.

“The national minorities represent at least 20% of the population of Ukraine, therefore in the sake of peace in the society it is very important to protect the linguistic and cultural interests of the national minority groups. It is not endangering the majority nation if national minorities are treated equally and it will prove the real commitment of the country for European values” – said Hungarian MEP, Andrea Bocskor.

MEP Svetoslav Hristov Malinov from Bulgaria underlined: “The amendments that concern the language rights of minorities living in Ukraine are discriminatory. They put at risk the right of citizens to study their mother tongue and be educated accordingly”.

MEP Traian Ungureanu from Romania emphasised: “Historical minorities and their culture are something special that should be protected in order to guarantee the historical integrity of Europe. In a democracy, this should be self-understood. Languages should not be oppressed, but protected by law. The Ukrainian authorities are for sure very much aware of the cultural crimes that disfigure now the eastern part of the country. This should be one more reason for the Ukrainian law to support the culture and the education of the minorities in Ukraine”.

“As Ukraine has chosen the path of the European integration, it is obliged to keep the international agreements, in particular in the field of national minority protection and non-discrimination, and it has to guarantee the fundamental human rights with regards to the use of mother tongue “- highlighted the EPP Group MEPs.

Brussels, 1 December 2016