Ukraine's parliament approves minorities bill, seen as key for EU talks

  • World
  • Friday, 08 Dec 2023

FILE PHOTO: Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses lawmakers during a session of the Ukrainian parliament dedicated the Constitution Day, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 28, 2023. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

(Reuters) - The Ukrainian parliament on Friday approved three bills necessary to start European Union accession talks, including one on national minorities' rights, a critical demand from Hungary which opposes Ukraine's EU bid, officials said.

Lawmaker Yaroslav Zhelezniak said on Telegram messenger that members of parliament voted in the final reading for the bill regarding minorities' rights, taking into consideration the expert assessment of the European Council.

Budapest has clashed with Kyiv over what it says are curbs on the rights ethnic Hungarians in west Ukraine, in particular regarding education.

The other two bills adopted concern staff increases in the National Anti-Corruption Bureau and additional power for the National Agency on Corruption Prevention on assets checks.

"Just now Ukrainian parliament passed three out of four laws by constitutional majority identified by the European Commission as leftovers in the EU Enlargement report," Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna said on X.

She added that a fourth requirement - a law on lobbying - was approved by the cabinet on Tuesday.

The 27 national EU leaders are due to decide next week on whether to accept the European Commission's recommendation to invite Kyiv to begin membership talks.

Any such decision however requires the unanimous support. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has repeatedly said Hungary would not support the Commission's proposal in its present form.

(Reporting by Yuliia Dysa; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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