The MFA reported on Thursday that it took note of the adoption, by the Supreme Rada of Ukraine, on December 13, of Law 8224 on national minorities (communities) in Ukraine, which aims to complete the Ukrainian regulatory framework on the protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities.
Thus, the MAE requests the Ukrainian authorities to consult the Venice Commission even at this stage and to fully implement its recommendations, considering the fact that the law provides for a six-month deadline for its entry into force. At the same time, the ministry states that “it is regrettable that the law was adopted in the absence of an adequate consultation of the representatives of the Romanian community in Ukraine, as requested by the Romanian side”.
“The MAE reminds that, in the Opinion issued on June 17th regarding Ukraine’s application for accession to the European Union, the European Commission indicated, among the steps that must be completed, the completion of the reform of the legislative framework regarding the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, according to the recommendations of the Venice Commission , and the immediate adoption of efficient implementation mechanisms”, the press release of the MAE states.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers it regrettable that the law was adopted in the absence of a new consultation of the Venice Commission, whose opinion would certainly have contributed to ensuring a comprehensive and clear text from the perspective of European legal standards in the matter, including by checking the way in whose previous recommendations are reflected in the normative text, the press release of the MAE shows.
It is also regrettable that the law was adopted in the absence of an adequate consultation of the representatives of the Romanian community in Ukraine, as requested by the Romanian side.
The MAE requests the Ukrainian authorities to consult the Venice Commission even at this stage and to fully implement its recommendations, considering the fact that the law provides for a six-month deadline for its entry into force.
“Romania fully supports Ukraine’s European path and understands the natural desire to speed up the process of getting closer to the EU, but signals the fact that the untimely acceleration of the legislative process in this field significantly affected the consultation process with the representatives of national minorities , which should have been one of substance, prior to the adoption of the law. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasizes that it has repeatedly requested the Ukrainian side to thoroughly consult the Romanian community in Ukraine in the process of drafting and adopting the law”, the cited source also indicates.
What the law provides
Basically, the law represents an improved variant in relation to the previous projects analyzed at the level of the Ukrainian legislature. Thus, improvements can be considered: maintaining the reference in the preambular part of the law to the European reference instruments in the matter, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter of Regional or Minority Languages, as well as to other international treaties ratified by Ukraine, as a basis for shaping policies in the matter of national minorities; the express mention of the priority of the international treaties to which Ukraine is a party over the law in question; the express emphasis on preventing the assimilation of persons belonging to national minorities as a principle on which Ukraine’s policy in the field is based; clarification of the text of the article regarding the prohibition of discrimination, in the sense that the new text no longer induces the perception of a possible prohibition of positive discrimination, which is of the essence of policies in the matter of promoting and protecting the rights of persons belonging to national minorities; maintaining the provision regarding the promotion and support by the state of studying the history and culture of national minorities; ensuring the consultation of representatives of national minorities by: including among the attributions of the competent authorities for the implementation of the policy in the field the holding of consultations with the representatives of associations of national minorities in matters related to the rights and freedoms of persons belonging to national minorities, by creating, within the central body of the executive with attributions in the matter, of a consultative body whose composition includes representatives of civic associations of national minorities, through the possibility of setting up consultative bodies at local level with the participation of representatives of national minorities, at their initiative or through the Center of National Minorities; are exempted from the limitations of the State Language Law, typographic production published in minority languages and specialized bookstores dedicated to national minorities, in the sense that the requirement of publishing 50% of books in the Ukrainian language, respectively, of distributing book in the state language in the same percentage; the distribution of electoral materials in the state language and in the language of national minorities in areas traditionally inhabited by persons belonging to national minorities; the reconfirmation of the exemption from the rigors of the education law for education organized exclusively in the private regime (without contribution from the state budget of Ukraine), remaining only the obligation to ensure knowledge of the Ukrainian language at the level of state standards.
On the other hand, in the analysis of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are still provisions that can have a negative impact, by reference to European standards, such as: while the Opinion of the Venice Commission no. 960/2019 formulated on the Ukrainian Law on the functioning of the state language is critical in terms of the regulations regarding the use of the official language in education, the Venice Commission referring to the criticisms previously formulated in the context of the evaluation of art. 7 of the Education Law, the article of the National Minorities Law dedicated to education refers to the provisions of the Education Law, so the concerns of the Romanian side from the perspective of the right to education are not satisfied; unclear language remains regarding the monitoring duties of the central authority in charge of implementing state policy in the field of national minorities in relation to the activities of civic associations of national minorities; there is no provision regarding the use of the mother tongue in the relationship with the judicial authority; uncertainties persist regarding the concrete application of the provisions regarding the use of minority languages in the administration, in areas traditionally inhabited by persons belonging to national minorities and at their request, as well as those that regulate that information of general interest (announcements, which, among others, contain a public offer to conclude a contract, information plates, signs, panels, messages, inscriptions and other publicly placed textual, visual and audio information that is used or can be used to inform an unlimited number of people about goods, works, services , certain commercial entities, officials, employees of enterprises or state authorities, local self-governing bodies) are dubbed in the language of the national minority (community) by a decision of the village, commune, city councils; the right to manifest one’s religion or belief does not benefit, further, from a distinct provision, being included only in the article relating to the right to freedom of expression; while the establishment of an advisory body within the central executive body aimed at ensuring the formation and implementation of state policy in the field of protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities appears as a positive measure, there remains a lack of clarity on how to decide which organization is representative of a minority when, for example, there are several associations established within the same national minority; the problem of providing financial resources for the translation of information related to artistic and cultural events is not clarified, when it is necessary to ensure the translation into the state language; the issue of the lack of funding for representative associations of national minorities remains, with only the possibility of punctual funding based on projects and on a competitive basis, within the limits of the budget allocated annually for this purpose.
The MAE announces what it is doing next
The MFA will continue the coordination with the representatives of the Romanian community and the sustained dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities to ensure the full respect and promotion of the identity rights of ethnic Romanians, including on the basis of the international obligations assumed by Ukraine in the matter, which the law expressly recognizes as priority. This dialogue will continue including in the format of the Romanian-Ukrainian intergovernmental joint commission for the promotion of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recalls the fact that as early as 2021, Romania’s proposal to conclude a Comprehensive Agreement on the protection of the rights of persons belonging to the Romanian communities in Ukraine and the Ukrainian communities in Romania with an emphasis on linguistic rights was agreed in principle at the bilateral level, but because of the war with Russia against Ukraine, the dialogue on the matter was considerably hindered and slowed down.
The MAE reminds, based on the experience and the integration processes that Romania has gone through, that the effort to join the European Union must be based on thorough reforms and the assumption of all European values. Only such a process will lead to the construction of a harmonious, tolerant and balanced society, for the benefit of all Ukrainian citizens, regardless of ethnicity. At the same time, the MAE emphasizes that, in addition to the mandatory character and assumption of the implementation of some reforms, the sequences preceding the accession and the steps taken within the process of accession to the EU constitute an essential and indispensable element for strengthening the resilience of the state and an architecture congruent with the European one .
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also specifies that the issues related to the remedy and guarantee of the rights of the persons belonging to the Romanian community in Ukraine were constantly raised in the dialogue with the Ukrainian side, including at the highest level, as most recently during the meeting on November 10, 2022 of of the premiers of the two states from Vicovu de Sus – Krasnoilsk, respectively at the meeting on November 29, 2022, on the sidelines of the NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bucharest, of the foreign ministers of Romania and Ukraine, on which occasion the Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu including Romania’s request for recognition by Ukraine of the non-existence of the so-called “Moldovan language”, which would allow a wider access of Romanians from Ukraine to education in Romanian.
According to the quoted source, the Romanian side constantly invoked in contacts with the Ukrainian side the promise of the president of Ukraine according to which the people belonging to the Romanian community in Ukraine will benefit from the same treatment that the people belonging to the Ukrainian community benefit from in Romania.
The analysis aspects and previously presented requests were sent to the Ukrainian side through a letter addressed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu to his counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.
Also, they will be detailed in the contacts of the MFA Headquarters with the Embassy of Ukraine in Bucharest and of the Embassy of Romania in Kyiv with the Ukrainian authorities, in continuation of the frequent and dense dialogue on this subject, already underway.
Tags: Ukraine, minorities,
Publication date: 22-12-2022 18:52