The organization said that Kiev is necessary first, “without delay to prepare a law on national minorities”
PARIS, 6 Dec. /TASS/. The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe (COE) recommended that Ukraine postpone the entry into force of the law “On ensuring the functioning of Ukrainian as the state language” prior to the preparation of the law on national minorities. This is stated in a statement on Friday the international organization of communiqué.”CE experts call Ukraine without delay, to prepare a law on national minorities and to postpone until that time the execution of articles of the law on language, which has been adopted”, – noted there. In the document prepared by the Commission noted that “that the language issue has become a source of ethnic tension in Ukraine, it is extremely important to achieve an appropriate balance in language policy”.
However, as stated in the communiqué, the representatives of the Commission, taking into account “the special place of Russian language in Ukraine, and also the oppression of the Ukrainian language in the past,” fully aware of “the need to promote the use of Ukrainian as the state language”.
“The Venice Commission also welcomes the fact that in some areas the law on the state language stipulates the use of minority languages in parallel with the state language, referring to the proposed law on minorities, – the document says. – However, the law on minorities has not yet been prepared, although it would have to be developed in parallel with the state language law, from the outset to provide the necessary balance.”
“The authorities are invited to revise the law on the state language and to draft a law on minorities, in consultation with all stakeholders, especially representatives of national minorities and indigenous peoples,” – said the expert.
As noted in the Venice Commission, in particular “authorities should consider the abolition of the law on language of the complaint mechanism and sanctions-or at least its strict restriction of the public sphere and in the most extreme cases”. “If this mechanism is sustained, sanctions provisions should not be applied until the adoption of the minorities act and the revision of the law on the state language”, – said there.
The experts also recommended “the deletion of article establishing liability for deliberate distortion of the Ukrainian language in official documents and texts.”
In addition, the “Venice Commission invites the legislators to reduce quota requirements for Ukrainian language content established by the law on the state language of broadcasters”. “In addition, the Board notes that private parties should be allowed to use the minority language among themselves, including when it is seen and heard by others in public places,” – said in a communique.
“The possibility distribution of campaign materials in languages other than Ukrainian, should not be limited to the areas of compact residence of minorities – continued representatives of the Commission. – The law should provide for clear exceptions to the use of languages other than Ukrainian, in emergency situations (e.g., when communicating with emergency services such as police, firefighters, hospital staff, etc.)”.
In addition, the Commission believes that it is necessary to repeal the provisions that “require that printed mass media in the minority language were published both in the Ukrainian language on the same day.” “A provision stating that all geographical names and toponyms should be exclusively in the Ukrainian language, as well as other provisions of the act should be revised”, – concluded the experts.
The Verkhovna Rada on April 25 passed a bill “On ensuring the functioning of Ukrainian as the state language”, and on may 15, five days before the expiration of its authority, the document was signed by President Petro Poroshenko. The document stipulates that citizens are obliged to use the Ukrainian language in all spheres of life. Monitor the implementation of the law will be “language inspectors”. They will be able to attend meetings in all state agencies, to demand documents from public associations and political parties, and to assign fines.