Ukrainian society continues to be tolerant and open, respectful of multiple identities. The impact of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, and the illegal annexation by the Russian Federation of on the political climate and economic and social life in the country, cannot be overstated. In particular, the conflict has created an atmosphere in which persons feel the obligation to choose sides by showing loyalty to the state. The persons most impacted in this regard are those who identify as ethnic Russians or those who identify with the Ukrainian majority but communicate in the Russian language. This was stated in the report, covering the period of up to November 2016.
“A thorough modernisation programme was launched in Ukraine, including territorial administrative reform aiming at the decentralisation of competences and the creation of larger territorial units capable of delivering adequate services to the population. However, both the future territorial structure and the set-up of local administration could potentially affect - both positively and negatively - access to rights by persons belonging to national minorities. Concerns have been raised about, inter alia, the provision of education in languages of national minorities, support for national minority cultural institutions, and the ability to influence decision making at local level,” it was noted.
Among the problematic issues, the experts of the Council of Europe noted that Ukraine lacks a clear legislative framework on the protection of national minorities. In particular, the Roma continue to face numerous social challenges in Ukraine. The authorities have continued their efforts to combat discrimination and implement policies for Roma inclusion. The “Strategy for Protection and Integration of the Roma National Minority into Ukrainian Society for the period up to 2020”, adopted in 2013, has already yielded some positive results, in particular as regards the provision of identity documents for the Roma. In other areas, progress has been negligible, and Roma continue to suffer systemic discrimination in access to education, adequate housing, health services and employment.
Advisory Committee recommends to:
- Adopt without delay and in close consultation with the groups concerned;
- Promote respect and combat stereotypes and prejudice in political discourse and promote tolerance and intercultural dialogue throughout society as a whole;
- Continue developing, in consultation with all relevant groups, a clear legislative and policy framework in order to provide solid legal guarantees for the protection and use of all minority languages;
- Take all necessary measures to end, without further delay, practices that lead to the continued segregation of Roma children in schools and to redouble efforts to remedy other shortcomings faced by Roma children;
- Ensure that, when redrawing administrative boundaries, the rights and freedoms which flow from the Framework Convention are not restricted and that effective participation of persons belonging to national minorities in discussions at local level is guaranteed;
As it was reported earlier during the meeting between Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Vasyl Bondar and the delegation of the Council of Europe on Feb. 1, the implementation of the project on strengthening the protection of national minorities in Ukraine was discussed. This program is to be a part of the joint EU - Council of Europe program Partnership for Good Governance.
The Project Partnership for Good Governance, worth €33.8 million, will fund joint programs in its EaP beneficiary countries focused to support the modernization efforts through serious legal reforms and to speed up their political association and economic integration in order to bring them closer to Council of Europe and European Union standards.