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European Parliament. Photo supplied

MEP’s protest Ukraine’s language bill

At the end of last month, a group of 19 central European MEPs sent an open letter to Andriy Parubiy, chairman of Ukraine’s parliament, expressing concern over the country’s language bill.

Published: November 2, 2018, 7:15 am

    The Ukrainian parliament has approved the first draft of the bill which makes compulsory the use of Ukrainian as an official language in education as well as in other areas.

    The letter was signed by MEPs of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz-KDNP, ethnic Hungarian MEPs in neighbouring countries, as well as two Romanian and two Bulgarian MEPs.

    The European lawmakers cited obligations Ukraine has undertaken in international accords on observing minority rights in their letter. They also propose submitting the bill to the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission for an opinion and approval before a final vote.

    A second round of voting is scheduled for November 6.

    Andrea Bocskor, a Hungarian MEP from Ukraine’s Transcarpathia region, has also detailed the violations of minority rights to Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament.

    She has asked Brussels to monitor the legislative process and take steps to force Ukraine to observe basic human rights and consult ethnic minority organisations and international institutions on new laws affecting minorities.

    Experts say the bill would “prevent Hungarian from being a regional language” in Transcarpathia. If that bill is passed into law, it could have unpredictable consequences for the Hungarian minority, they added.

    “Regular conditions and a functional dialogue” need to be restored in Hungarian-Ukrainian relations, Zsolt Nemeth, the head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told Hungarian news agency MTI.

    According to Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban, the Hungarians did not measure themselves by what they could take from others, but by what they could give to culture and science, adding that the Hungarian people is one “which has always given more to the world than it took from it”.

    He noted that for centuries the Hungarian people has defended Europe in its battles and added to its shared treasures, and with its culture it has contributed to Europe’s diversity.

    Orban spoke at an event marking the reopening of the refurbished Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest.

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