«Jewish Observer»
March 2002
5762 Nisan

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Pursuant to the Decree of the President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma the Council Presidium of the representatives of non-government organizations of national minorities of Ukraine has been renovated. Now it is headed by Ilya Levitas, the Jewish Council President. The Council's Presidium has been conferred powers of a consultative-advisory body and 10 more members have been admitted into it. Sergei Maksimov, the Co-President of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, is now representing the county's Jewish community in the Council. On the whole the Council is made up of the representatives of 30 national minorities of Ukraine.

Vladimir Litvin, the Chief of the Administration of the President of Ukraine and the leader of the election bloc "For United Ukraine!", Grigoriy Sreda, the Chairman of the Government Committee of Ukraine on Nationalities and Migration, and executive officials of the President's Administration took part in the first meeting of the renovated Council Presidium. As they say the atmosphere of the meeting was very constructive.

"It wasn't just a pre-election meeting", Ilya Levitas stresses the fact. "It was a discussion of national and language problems. We tried to find the way how to make it possible to freely use and develop national minorities' languages, with Ukrainian being the only state language. A number of national organizations do not have premises of their own; Ukraine's Law "On National Minorities" was adopted 10 years ago and provided financing cultural development of these minorities, but the Law, unfortunately, is not observed... These things were also talked about at the discussion.

The participants of the meeting suggested that the "Peoples' House of Friendship" should be set up in Kiev. There are institutions like this in six cities of Ukraine, but in the capital it is still an open question. In this connection Vladimir Litvin promised that the leaders of Kiev Administration would be given instructions to allot premises for the "Peoples' House of Friendship" and to provide premises and funds for national art troupes.

The Chief of the Administration accentuated the importance of keeping "ethnic national movements from becoming pro-political". He laid emphasis on the fact that lately "some people have been trying to use this as a ram attack to achieve their goals" and the language topic has become "a very profiteering area". Litvin added that Ukraine should have the only state language - Ukrainian and there should be "possibilities for free development of all languages" without forcing down Russian or Ukrainian.

The participants of the meeting adopted an Appeal to the President, the Cabinet of Ministers, the Verhovna Rada, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Education and Science and the Government Committee on Nationalities. It outlines the further development of national minority movements in the country as the Council sees it. For example, the programs of concerts and different cultural activities of Ukrainian art troupes (both in this country and abroad) should include the performances of art troupes of national minorities; representatives of certain national minorities, for example, Poles, Bulgarians, Jews, should be invited to the meetings with the statesmen from their historical motherland; they should be included into international delegations and so on.


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