Ukraine’s parliament approves draft law concerning national minorities
On September 21, during its session, the Verkhovna Rada passed a draft law addressing national minorities, a key prerequisite for Ukraine to initiate EU membership talks
Yaroslav Zheleznyak, a People's Deputy, shared this development.
A total of 318 People's Deputies supported the adoption of the draft law, with no opposing votes. Three parliamentarians abstained, and 18 others did not cast their votes.
The draft law's purpose, as explained, is to enhance legislative provisions safeguarding the rights and liberties of national minorities. These provisions align with the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950, the Council of Europe's Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities from 1995, and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages from 1992.
The document ensures government-backed free provision of textbooks, including electronic versions, to general secondary education students belonging to national minorities or communities, following government-established procedures.
This measure allows for the use of national minority languages in advertising, public events, cultural activities, entertainment, emergency assistance, and more.
The draft law's authors believe it will contribute to upholding the rights of individuals from national minority communities and fulfill Ukraine's international commitments. They underscore that these legislative changes take into account Ukraine's circumstances in light of the Russian Federation's armed aggression.
The "Law on National Minorities (Communities)" was passed by the Verkhovna Rada in December 2022 and came into effect in March 2023. This law is one of the seven recommendations from the European Commission that Ukraine needs to implement to progress toward EU membership.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis urged Volodymyr Zelenskyy to reconsider this law, and Ukraine's President pledged to consider Bucharest's concerns. Hungary has also raised concerns about the rights of Transcarpathian Hungarians on multiple occasions.
In February, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) acted on the Hungarian-Romanian initiative, reaching out to the Venice Commission concerning national minority rights in Ukraine.
In June 2023, the Venice Commission criticized the law on national minorities.