PACE rapporteur on Ukraine's Education Act Andres Herkel stated during the debates in the Council of Europe on Thursday, Censor.NET reports citing Ukrinform.
He said the first principle is that speaking official language is a factor of social unity and integration. It's the state's legitimate right to promote learning of its official language.
Herkel went on saying that Ukraine's worries about Ukrainian as a national language are grounded, and there is a need to take additional measures to consolidate its role in the society.
The Education Act might be able to promote this position.
He also said that as a rapporteur, he needed to be balanced and include interests of all parties.
Among the arguments against the bill voiced by those who oppose it, is that the parliament adopted this "controversial" law without the opinion of the Venice Commission. The Verkhovna Rada had to wait for the expert position of the Commission prior to passing the law, the rapporteur said.
The Commission's opinion will be published by the end of the year, and only then conclusions should be made, Herkel said.
On the other hand, the rapporteur said, language is an important component of ethnic groups' identities, so discrimination could not be allowed there.
On Oct. 5, Ukraine's parliament adopted Education Act of Ukraine providing that education in schools can be held in the languages of ethnic minorities up to 4th grade. From the 5th grade up, school students are obliged to take all classes in Ukrainian, the only state language in Ukraine. The provision sparked criticism by Budapest, which threatened to block Ukraine decisions in the EU over the language provision. On Sept. 25, President Poroshenko signed the bill.
The Ukraine's Education Act has been opposed by Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, and Moldova.
The bill came into force on Sept. 28.
On Oct. 10, head of Hungarian Foreign Ministry Peter Szijjarto refused to meet his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin during the former's visit to the Zakarpattia region of Ukraine.
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