Restraint, responsibility and dialogue needed in Ukraine, including Crimea, says OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities
THE HAGUE, 24 February 2014 – OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Astrid Thors today expressed her satisfaction that solutions to end the violence and loss of life in Ukraine are emerging. However, she cautioned that the situation remains very fragile. She called on all actors to refrain from taking actions that could lead to increased tensions.
Thors is concerned about the effect the recent events have had on the already precarious situation on the Crimean peninsula. “I urge all sides to act responsibly, to continue respecting Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and to prevent clashes between different ethnic groups.”
Meanwhile, the decisions taken yesterday by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to cancel the 2012 law on the “Principles of the State Language Policy” could lead to further unrest, especially in a context where language policy is such a divisive issue. The High Commissioner urged the authorities to take measures to ensure that the concerns of all ethnic and linguistic groups are being taken into account. She encouraged the authorities to refrain from taking any hasty actions that could lead to further escalation.
“At this crucial time in its history, Ukraine needs leaders, laws and policies that unite rather than divide. Like my predecessors, I call on the Ukrainian authorities to adopt a balanced and inclusive approach towards language policy. The authorities have to consult widely to ensure that future language legislation accommodates the needs and positions of everyone in Ukrainian society, whether they are speakers of Ukrainian, Russian or other languages,” Thors said. Consultations should also encompass international organizations, including the Council of Europe and the OSCE, to ensure that any new language legislation meets European standards.
“I am ready to give advice and facilitate discussions on new legislation,” Thors added. “We must avoid the mistakes made last time when unbalanced legislation was adopted without a proper dialogue in the Verkhovna Rada.”