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Venice Commission: Russian language under threat of discrimination

Article 7 provides no solutions for languages which are not official languages of the EU, in particular, the Russian language
18:01, 9 December 2017

Open source

The Venice Commission urged Ukraine to make the amendments to the Article 7 of the law "On Education" towards the education in schools by languages that are not official in the EU, including the Russian language. It is reported in the comments to the commission's conclusions published on the website of the European Council.

'The Article 7 provides a legal basis for the teaching of other subjects in the EU official languages, such as Bulgarian, Hungarian, Romanian and Polish; it seems to be the intention of the Ukrainian authorities to make use of the possibilities offered by this provision. However, the new Law provides no solutions for languages which are not official languages of the EU, in particular, the Russian language, as the most widely used non-state languages. The less favourable treatment of these languages is difficult to justify and therefore raises issues of discrimination', the European Consul thinks.

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The Article 7 contains important ambiguities and does not appear to provide the needed guidance on the application of the country’s international and constitutional obligations as the commission noted.

'The exact scope of the guarantees for education in the minority languages, mainly limited to primary education, is not clear', the decision said.

The Venice Commission offered Ukrainian authorities to make the amendments to the article and replace these provisions with more balanced.

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The commission also noted that the Article 7 possesses the framework nature and expresses the hope that other legislation acts will provide the protection of national minorities in Ukraine.

The full text of the decision of the Venice Commission will be published on December 11.

As we reported the Venice Commission didn’t support Hungary’s accusations of infringement of ethnic minorities’ rights by the recently adopted education law in Ukraine.

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The new law on education was signed by Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko on September 25th. In particular, it introduces a 12-year-long school program and limits the number of subjects taught on the languages of national minorities. This particular decision evoked outrage in Moldova, Romania, Russia, and Hungary. Budapest even threatened to slow down the process of Ukraine integration to the EU.

Ukraine has been explaining the provisions of the law, emphasizing that the diasporas and Embassies of the countries will be consulted before any changes to the schools that teach in the languages of national minorities are made.

 

 

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