On Thursday, October 12, the Parliamentary Assemblyheld an urgent debate on Ukraine, which resulted in the adoption of a tough resolution by the Assembly “The new Ukrainian law on education: a major impediment to the teaching of national minorities’ mother tongues.”82 out of 110 present parliamentarians voted for the corresponding decision. This was stated by the First Deputy Head of the Ukrainian delegation to the PACE, MP from the OPPOSITION BLOC Yulia Lovochkina.
According to her, in the morning the meeting of the PACE Committee on Culture took place, at which the amendments submitted by the members of the Assembly were considered. The position of our European colleagues was categorical and, it should be noted, it found considerable support in the plenary hall - 82 parliamentarians voted “for”.
“The resolution says that the new law on education provides for a significant reduction in the amount of previously reserved right to the teaching of national minorities’ mother tongues. The Assembly emphasizes that such an approach does not promote the principle of “living together,” the opposition politician stressed.
“The fact that Article 7 of the Law “On Education” was not discussed with representatives of national minorities before the adoption of the law is being criticized. Only under the pressure of the international community, the Ukrainian authorities have passed a separate article of the Law “On Education” for examination to the Venice Commission. A normal European practice is to consult and receive an expert opinion of the Commission before, and not after the adoption of the law,” Yulia Lovochkina explained.
“The Assembly notes serious concerns about a number of legal issues, stressing that it is important to fulfill the obligations provided by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the European Charter of Regional Languages and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, emphasizing that it is important to help restoring constructive dialogue between different stakeholders,” the MP said.
In addition, Yulia Lovochkina noted that the final text of the Resolution excludes the rule that teaching exclusivelyof national minorities’ mother tongueswill create obstacles for those children who belong to them, because of the inability to master the national language at a sufficient level, which will subsequently be a barrier for them to access to higher education and the labor market.“Paragraph 4 of Article 7 of the European Charter establishes that when determining the policy with respect to regional or minority languages, the Parties shall take into account the wishes of national minorities. That is, it is impossible to forcefully compel members of ethnic minorities to study in a language other than their mother language,” Yulia Lovochkina explained.
Moreover, she noted that the Assembly believes that the 3-year transition period provided for in the law is too short and suggests revising the terms of the reform on education.
As Yulia Lovochkina noted, the Assembly appeals to the Ukrainian authorities with a request to implement recommendations and conclusions of the Venice Commission. “A very clear message from the Assembly was sounded to restore constructive dialogue between various interested parties. In addition, from Ukraine, nothing else is expected in this case, like making amendments to the law in accordance with European standards,” Yulia Lovochkina concluded.
Recall, the adoption of the Conclusion of the Venice Commission is expected at the 113th Plenary Session, which will be held on December 8-9.