Parliamentary committee on Ukraine-EU association hosts heated discussion on language issue for minorities in Ukraine
A heated discussion was held in the Parliamentary Committee of the Ukraine-EU Association on the situation in Ukraine on languages for minorities. Advocates of Ukraine's position regarding the promotion of learning the Ukrainian language in schools and advocates of minority rights to study in their native language were not in agreement.
On the second day of the meeting of the committee, which was held in Strasbourg on Thursday, deputies from Hungary, Romania, Lithuania and Ukraine clashed in a verbal battle.
A MEP from Romania, Traian Băsescu (People's Movement Party) who was the president of the country from 2004 to 2014 and his colleague from Hungary Andrea Bocskor (European People's Party), both from a group of European populists, during the meeting stated their countries' well-known position regarding protection minority rights to receive education in their own language.
They were opposed by a deputy from Lithuania, who had previously twice headed the government of this country, Andrius Kubilius, who is also representative of the European People's Party.
He believes that there should be an understanding in this matter that "in some countries of Europe, due to a tragic history, there are very specific problems that must be borne in mind."
"What are European standards? Of course, the European standard is to take care of our minorities. But on the other side, the European standards are very clear. You will not find any country in the EU where kids do not learn the state language. This is the European standard," he said.
He also pointed out that it is necessary to see that at present "the Ukrainian government, through legislation, seeks to build a nation."
"On the one hand, Ukrainians should be extremely careful in this matter, on the other hand, we must understand what Ukrainians need to achieve. They need achieve the same standards that exist in all our European countries, the possibility for kids to learn Ukrainian language, because it's one of the instruments for building a national state. So, that's why I urge you to be realistic about what is going on, and, on the other side, unfortunately, I have to be critical about my neighbors' position. … From my point of view, it is an entirely un-European standard to use the fact that we are EU members, and Ukraine wants to join the EU and NATO, and someone says, 'No, you won't join if you don't follow what we demand from you.' This is simply not acceptable," Kubilius said.