Council of Europe puts Ukrainian separatists in their place
According to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, it is only central authorities which may designate any particular status for a language.
This was stressed by a high-ranking official of the Secretariat of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, Hasan Berbek, in an interview given to the newspaper “Zerkalo tyzhnya” [“The Weekly Mirror”].
“According to the provisions of the Charter, only central state bodies have the authority to grant a language a particular status”.
Mr Bermek added that the actions of regional authorities are not regulated by the Charter at all.
Over the last few months a number of local or regional authorities in different regions of Ukraine have “granted” Russian regional language status, referring in this to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
“Each state treats this term as a minority language, or as the language of a minority, or a regional language.” For us it is not of significance how the term is viewed.
Mr Bermek adds that the definition of the term “regional or minority language” is provided in point “a” of Article 1 of the Charter: a “Regional or minority languages” means languages that are: i) traditionally used within a given territory of a State by nationals of that State who form a group numerically smaller than the rest of the States population; and ii different from the official language(s) of that State; it does not include either dialects of the official language(s) of the State or the languages of migrants”.
He also noted that when the Charter was being drawn up, the situation in Western Europe was such that the development of events which has been observed in Eastern Europe was not allowed for. This was true, for example, of the situation in Ukraine where a non-official language is used more than the state language.
"It is precisely for this reason that most of the Articles of the Charter are concerned with languages traditional for a particular area, or which are used to a lesser degree than the state language or languages”, Hasan Bermek explained.