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High Commissioner on National Minorities addresses OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Autumn Meeting on Ukraine crisis

116009OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Astrid Thors addressed the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Autumn Meeting in Geneva on 3 October 2014, and participated in the debate on Ukraine.

Thors said the crisis in Ukraine was complex and had several causes, some of which are not issues that typically fall under the High Commissioner’s mandate. Among the causes that the High Commissioner has been addressing for over 20 years are linguistic issues. “It is indisputable that long-standing disagreements about the respective roles of the Ukrainian and Russian languages and different interpretations of history in Ukraine have aggravated this crisis,” Thors said.

“Language issues have been used in Ukraine time and again to gain political advantage without considering the risk to national unity.”

In February, Thors called for a language policy that “promotes the State language while providing safeguards for minority languages” and called for “restraint, responsibility and dialogue” on this issue.

She also reiterated her deep concern for the increasingly precarious situation for minorities on the Crimean peninsula, especially the Crimean Tatars and the Ukrainian-speaking community. Citing The Bolzano/Bozen Recommendations on National Minorities in Inter‑State Relations, which were prepared by her office, she reminded participants that any authority exercising control over a territory is obliged to protect the safety, security and human rights of those people residing on the territory.

The High Commissioner said the crisis in Ukraine was a threat to the foundations of the Europe’s public order and called for respect for commonly agreed rules, principles and OSCE commitments. She stressed the importance of conflict prevention and the need for the support and co‑operation of all OSCE participating States in fulfilling her mandate. She added that parliamentarians had an important role to play in holding governments accountable and she specifically thanked the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly for its support during the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Baku, Azerbaijan, from 28 June to 2 July 2014.

The full text of her speech is available here:

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