Ukraine's envoy to UN: "Russia not in position to tell us what language we should speak"

22:58, 16 July 2019
Politics
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Ukraine's envoy Volodymyr Yelchenko / un.org

"A country that for centuries suppressed the Ukrainian language and forcefully replaced it with the Russian in all spheres of public life is not in a position to tell us now what language we should speak and write," he said at a UN Security Council briefing initiated by Russia in connection with the new law of Ukraine on the Ukrainian language, which has just come into effect.

Read alsoLanguage law comes to force in Ukraine

"Just compare: there are Ukrainian schools in Australia, Argentina, Slovakia and many other countries. Russia, where about 3 million Ukrainians live, has not a single Ukrainian school. Moreover, there were 7 Ukrainian and 15 Crimean Tatar schools in Crimea before the Russian occupation in 2014. The occupying authorities closed all Ukrainian and half of the Crimean Tatar schools," he said.

He added: "I can only repeat the words from the Sermon on the Mount: 'You hypocrite! First, remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.'"

"Now, Russia yet again wants to talk about Ukraine’s law on functioning of the state language, as if it might threaten international peace and security and if there were no more important issues on the Council agenda. In fact, this matter is a purely internal issue, it has no relation whatsoever to international peace and security," he said.

According to him, every time the Russian delegation raises the Ukrainian language issue, it pursues a double goal: to put a political pressure on Ukraine and to distract attention from other issues. "In May, it tried to impose its own agenda on the newly elected President of Ukraine, who was inaugurated just the same day, and to distract attention from the anniversary of the deportation of Crimean Tatars by the Stalin regime. Today, by raising this spurious issue four days before the parliamentary elections in Ukraine, Moscow is trying to provide political support to the pro-Russian parties," he said. "At the same time, Moscow tries to distract attention from the anniversary of the downing by the Russian military of flight MH17 on 17 July and from implementation of the Minsk Agreements. Or to be more precise, their persistent non-implementation by Russia."

Yelchenko said it was the first Council meeting on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict after the presidential elections in Ukraine. He assured that the implementation of the Minsk Agreements remains among the new president's top priorities.

"Since the new President took office, the Russian forces and their proxies almost doubled ceasefire violations. Is this how Russian peace proposals look like?" he wondered.

According to him, Russia shows no indication of the readiness to abandon its aggressive goals in Ukraine. Implementation of the Minsk Agreements by Kremlin, first and foremost in the security sphere, remains stalled.

"The illegal 'passportization' continues. The security situation in Donbas continues to deteriorate. There have been no efforts to end the occupation of Crimea. Ukrainian citizens continue to be used by Moscow as hostages in its hybrid war against my country," he said.  "The UN Charter, norms of international law and binding orders of international courts and tribunals remain dead letters for the Russian Federation, which keeps denying that it is a party to the conflict it masterminded, initiated and continues to fuel."

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