Hungarians are most indigenous people in Ukraine, - Szijarto

Source : 112 Ukraine

The Foreign Minister commented on the recently passed law on indigenous peoples
21:54, 8 July 2021

Romania Journal

Peter Szijarto, the Foreign Minister of Hungary claimed that his people is the most indigenous in Ukraine. He said so in his interview for Izvestiya outlet.

"I could not think of more indigenous people in Ukraine than Hungarians. That's a bit of exaggeration, of course, but still, these people have been living on this territory for ages. There are even people who could stay in the same city and still be citizens of five countries - the USSR, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, Slovakia, and Hungary. The territory belonged to other states, but the people remained", Szijarto said. 

Earlier, the Ukrainian Parliament supported the law on indigenous peoples of Ukraine - in the first reading and in general. 325 MPs upheld it, with 226 votes necessary to pass. The respective bill № 5506 is available on the Parliament's website. 

Related: Russians are not indigenous people in Ukraine, - Council of Europe expert

The document declares that the indigenous people is a local ethnic group shaped on the territory of Ukraine, which bears its own self-sufficient culture and language and has its own social, cultural, and representative authorities. It considers itself an indigenous people of Ukraine, being an ethnic minority in the country's population and has no government-provided education outside Ukraine.

Bill No. 5506 on the indigenous peoples of Ukraine was tabled by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in parliament as an urgent one.

The document defines "indigenous peoples," clearly separating them from ethnic national minorities, as well as defining the rights of such peoples (in particular, educational, linguistic or representative ones).

Thus, Russians, Hungarians or Romanians in Ukraine are national minorities since they have their own state outside the region of residence. At the same time, the Crimean Tatars, the Crimean Karaites and the Krymchaks are the indigenous peoples of Ukraine who were formed on the territory of the Crimean peninsula.

Related: Ukrainian Parliament passes law on indigenous peoples

Council of Europe expert, former Chairman of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and Professor at the University of Verona Francesco Palermo explained the main feature of the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples and whether Russians, Belarusians, and Moldovans in Ukraine fall under this definition.

"There is no universal definition of "national minority," and this also applies to the concept of "indigenous people." However, the identification of indigenous peoples is somewhat simpler, as the criteria for this are stricter than those commonly used to identify national minorities. Indigenous peoples are such that have always lived in certain territories, but there they are in a minority, though not necessarily in number, and enslaved, if not exterminated, by the expansion of other peoples who have occupied their territories. Examples are well known - from the first peoples of America and Canada to the Andean peoples of South America, from the Australian aborigines to the Sámi of the Arctic Circle, 65 indigenous peoples of the Russian Federation, the Crimean Tatars. One of the distinctive but problematic characteristics of indigenous peoples is, in some cases, the incompatibility of their way of life with that of the majority," he said.

Answering what was the difference between protecting the rights of indigenous peoples and national minorities, the expert said:

“To put it very simply, indigenous peoples enjoy all the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, as well as some others. These include, in particular, the right to land and territory, as well as the recognition of customary law and one's own institutions, especially for the governance of internal communities. For example, the Sámi Parliament or the Crimean Tatar Majlis.”

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