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Ukraine Must Fulfill its Obligations Toward National Minorities

Ukraine Must Fulfill its Obligations Toward National Minorities

2015. 07. 13.

MEP Eduard Kukan presented his report on the review of the neighbourhood policy before the plenary of the EP on July 8th. His report finds that the fundamental challenge of the European neighbourhood policy is bringing practical and useful changes to the everyday lives of citizens, besides making the benefits of the ENP perceptible to communities and society. The EU must continuously follow the implementation of the principles of democracy and rule of law, the independence of the judiciary in neighbouring countries and incentivize the fight against corruption. In addition to protecting fundamental human rights, the EU should encourage respecting the political, cultural and linguistic rights of minorities. The ENP should not only involve governments and EU institutions but should also guarantee the inclusion of municipalities and regional governments in the on-going process.

"As a Fidesz-KDNP MEP,” Bocskor said, “I believe it is important that the Ukrainian state respects the interests of minorities living in Ukraine, including that of Hungarians in Transcarpathia, when implementing reforms in public administration, decentralization and establishing the rule of law. By launching the decentralization processes, Ukraine not only brings about rationalization and increased efficiency for territorial organization, but also fulfils international obligations, which include obligations toward national minorities too," she said.

As one of the first steps of the public administration reforms, Ukraine accepted the law “On the voluntary association of local authorities/communities” of which Article 4 (4) says that “characteristic historic, linguistic and ethnic aspects of the region must be taken into consideration during the public administration reforms.” The article provides the possibility that minorities living in communities concentrated in a certain geographic area may form voluntary municipal organizations on an ethnic basis. However, article 11 of the government resolution about its legal execution, serving as a guide to develop micro-regions, does not contain the directives requiring consideration of minority issues according to the law and this is disadvantageous for the national minorities. “In the interest of national minorities living in Ukraine I believe it is highly significant that changes be made urgently to the government resolution on the execution of the public administration reform so that the rights given according to the law on “On the voluntary association of local authorities/communities” are provided,” Bocskor said.

“I support the position of the Transcarpathian Hungarian Cultural Association (KMKSZ), Democratic Association of Hungarians Living in Ukraine (UMDSZ), and the Association of Transcarpathian Borderland Municipalities (KHÖT) that throughout the public administration reform process a Berehove-centered (Beregszász) micro-region with an ethnic Hungarian majority should be established, as well as other micro-regions that do not undermine the unity of their Hungarian communities. With this issue, the Berehove District Council has turned to the President of Ukraine, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the Transcarpathian County Council and to the Transcarpathian members of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. The creation of a county, or ‘povit’, unifying the Hungarian settlements would guarantee a territorial framework for the use of the minority language on the local governmental level, and similarly would serve as a geographical basis for a Hungarian school district as well as a future ethnic voting region. I would like to emphasize that the European Union must pay close attention to the execution process of Ukrainian reforms, and must help it on the advisory level and all levels, so those would undoubtedly serve democratization and be based on the principles of protection of ethnic minorities,” MEP Bocskor said.