Romania’s Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu told a joint news conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin that Ukraine’s new law of education is a “very sensitive subject” in the relationship between the two countries, but Ukraine is open to dialogue on this issue.
“We have repeatedly expressed concern over the negative effects of the law on pupils studying Romanian in Ukraine, and we have asked Ukraine to put forth solutions so that the whole process of teaching in Romanian is guaranteed for the whole pre-university cycle, at least at the level at which it currently is,” said Melescanu.
The head of Romanian diplomacy noted Ukraine’s readiness for dialogue, but said that it was “a very sensitive subject in the relationship between our countries.”
He said that prior to his meeting with him, the Ukrainian foreign minister had met with members of a delegation from the Romanian Parliament who had gone to Ukraine to discuss the new education law.
Melescanu spoke about the importance of consultations and Romania’s support to Ukraine’s European journey.
He also underlined the involvement of European fora in this matter.
“Romania’s decision to act principally on the education law, proposing the use of the Council of Europe instruments (…), was based on our firm conviction that the informed opinions of these international fora could offer sufficient guarantees to affect respect for and promotion of the rights of persons belonging to the Romanian minority in Ukraine,” Melescanu said.
He also mentioned that Ukraine is waiting for the Venice Commission’s opinion its education law.
Melescanu said Romania is home to a Ukrainian community of 51,000 people. Of these, over 7,500 young people and children study in their mother tongue in 90 schools in Romania.
In his turn, the Ukrainian minister pointed out that the law is not directed against minorities, but it is designed for the development of the entire Ukrainian education system, and solutions are currently being sought for the optimal implementation of this law.
“This law is not directed against ethnic communities; it is meant to offer new opportunities for citizens of Ukraine, regardless of their ethnicity (…) We are not interested in assimilation,” Klimkin said.
He said he informed Melescanu on Friday that under Ukraine’s new education law, European Union minorities stand to benefit from a special framework.
Moreover, Klimkin said that speculations were generated on the education law. “No one wants to shut down any school, no one wants to sack anyone. On the contrary, we will work on a joint programme to give them the opportunity to improve,” he said.
Klimkin said that prior to the adoption of the law, there were consultations with the communities affected by that change. “The meaning of this law is not to eliminate some of the subject matters that are being taught now in Romanian and replace them, teach them in Ukrainian. The purpose of this law is to leave the Romanian language education system and add a system of learning in Ukrainian so that all citizens of Ukraine can use all the opportunities to succeed in Ukraine,” he said.
Ukraine’s new education law, promulgated in early September, introduces the 12-grade system in Ukraine and the extension of the use of Ukrainian language in the sphere of education. According to BucPress, under Article 7 of the newly adopted law, the education system in Ukraine is conducted only in the state language (Ukrainian), and the subject matters currently taught in Romanian are to be taught in Ukrainian.