The Ukrainian parliament adopted on Tuesday a new law to enhance the rights of ethnic minorities in the country, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported.
The bill on national minorities’ rights was supported by 324 MPs, with just 226 votes needed for its adoption. The legislation was a key condition required for Ukraine to start negotiations on its accession to the European Union.
Guaranteeing social, economic, cultural, and linguistic rights
The bill lays down the definition of “national minorities (communities),” the rights and obligations of persons belonging to national minorities, the rights of their representatives, and the specific features of public policy to enforce them, as well as the powers of the central executive body in the field of the protection of persons belonging to national minorities.
Article 5 of the law guarantees to citizens of Ukraine the social, economic, cultural, and linguistic rights and freedoms laid down in the Constitution, regardless of their ethnic origin, whether they belong to national minorities or not, news agency Interfax-Ukraine reported.
According to the news agency, under the law, a person belonging to a national minority has the right to self-identity; freedom of association and peaceful assembly; freedom of opinion, belief, thought, speech, conscience, and religion; and freedom to participate in political, economic, and social life. The right to use the national language and to preserve the cultural identity of the community is also enshrined in the legislation.
The Hungarian government and the organizations of the Hungarian minority in Transcarpathia have objected to the language article of the Education Law adopted in 2018, as well as the 2019 law on the functioning of Ukrainian as the state language (commonly known as the Language Law), because they see them as a violation of the rights of minorities. They have thus been urging Kyiv for years to adopt legislation guaranteeing the protection of minorities in Ukraine.