UWC President meets with OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities
December 20, 2010
UWC PRESIDENT MEETS WITH OSCE HIGH COMMISSIONER ON NATIONAL MINORITIES
On December 13, 2010 the President of the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) Eugene Czolij met with the High Commissioner on National Minorities of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Knut Vollebaek in The Hague, Netherlands. Also participating in the meeting were Senior Advisors Dr. Klemens Buescher and Jennifer Croft, and Personal Advisor to the High Commissioner Trude Ertresvaag. This was the first meeting of representatives of the OSCE and UWC after an exchange of correspondence on human rights issues concerning Ukrainian minorities.
During the meeting Eugene Czolij acquainted Knut Vollebaek with the work of the UWC before focusing on the main issues which are hindering unrestricted development of the Ukrainian national minority in Russia. In particular, he presented the UWC Executive Summary on the Federal National Cultural Autonomy of Ukrainians in Russia (FNCAUR) which outlines Russia’s attempts to liquidate this Ukrainian NGO. The UWC President also presented a February 2008 joint report of the Moscow Helskinki Group and Human Rights Without Frontiers titled “Control and Punishment: Human Rights Implications of Russian Legislation on NGOs.” He focused on the report’s criticism of tactics used by Russian authorities against NGOs similar to those used against FNCAUR. The UWC President requested that OSCE send someone to monitor FNCAUR’s appeal to the Russian Supreme Court and that the OSCE convey its concern to Russia’s President.
The UWC President also presented a memorandum dated July 31, 2009 prepared by the UWC Commission on Human and Civil Rights. The document, addressed to the OSCE, outlines a range of important issues relating to the Ukrainian minority in Russia, specifically the persecution of activists, the violation of religious freedoms, the closure of the Ukrainian Educational Centre in Moscow, the destruction of valuable materials in the Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow and the financial needs of Ukrainian language media. Eugene Czolij also referred to OSCE’s response dated December 8, 2009 which essentially deals with the state of Ukrainian language education in Russia and Russian language education in Ukraine.
The UWC President called upon Knut Vollebaek to publicize OSCE’s analysis of Ukrainian language education in Russia and Russian language education in Ukraine. He also highlighted the predominance of the Russian language in Ukraine to the detriment of the development of the Ukrainian language as the state language and the languages of other national minorities.
The High Commissioner agreed to consider these issues carefully.
“The meeting with the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities was productive. The Ukrainian World Congress will continue to maintain close ties with this high-level international organization with the goal of defending the rights of Ukrainian national minorities and supporting their development,” stated UWC President Eugene Czolij.
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