Vienna, 6 April 2014 Press release

Council of Europe considers protection of minorities in Ukraine is adequate

Experts in minority issues publish their report

Measures for enhanced rule of law initiated; acts of violence are subject to investigation 

Vienna, 6 April 2014 – In the run-up to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on 7 April 2014, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, in his capacity as chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, reported that the findings of the minority experts have been submitted. The report was commissioned following a visit by a Committee delegation to Kiev and provides clarity in two matters: "The situation of the minorities in Ukraine does not currently give reason for acute concern. We need to remain alert, however, to prevent any instrumentalisation of the minorities in Ukraine for political purposes, as this risk still persists." 

The experts of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities – a legally binding protection mechanism of the Council of Europe – state in their report submitted after their mission in Ukraine that the legal framework is adequate for ensuring the peaceful coexistence of the various language groups in Ukraine. At the same time, however, the experts warn that the current tensions could entail a threat to the peaceful situation if ethnicities are misused for political purposes. Consequently, the report contains the demand that future amendments of legislation concerning minority issues, such as the legislation on languages, need to be made in close coordination with all groups of the population and with the involvement of international experts. 

In parallel to this, the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe regularly advises the Ukrainian government and parliament on important items of proposed legislation. The International Advisory Panel for the investigation of acts of violence committed in Kiev since last November is to take up its work soon. The involvement of the Panel was proposed by the Council of Europe last December. 

"Ukraine is still open for cooperation with the Council of Europe. The Government indicated this when I visited Kiev at the beginning of March and Foreign Minister Deshchytsia reaffirmed this commitment in Strasbourg on 3 April", Kurz said. 

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