Dear Madam President, Deputy President!
Dear General Secretary!
It is a great honor for us to join the 20th EFNIL General Assembly as an associate member and participate in decision-making process that will determine the further development of such an important institution on the continent.
We are grateful for the trust and consider Ukraine's membership in EFNIL to be one of the evidences of irreversibility of our country's movement towards the standards of the European community, an opportunity to popularize and study Ukrainian as the future language of the European Union, to share experiences and best language practices. It is very important for us to be part of the European family, where the value of national languages is recognized and their development is taken care of, rather than destroyed, as it was and is happening now with the languages of the peoples under the pressure of the occupiers' dictatorship.
Let me thank you (!), Madam President, as well as all EFNIL members, for the support you have shown to Ukraine and, in particular, to our institution throughout the 595 days of full-scale military Russian aggression that began on February 24, 2022.
Ukraine is fighting not only for itself, but for the basic values of the democratic world: human rights, respect for the freedom of citizens, choice and self-determination regarding the territory of the state, its culture, and language.
Thanks to the heroism and valor of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as the military and financial support of your countries, we managed to de-occupy a significant territory of the state that had been seized by Russian invaders since the beginning of the full-scale invasion.
You have seen the horrors and atrocities that have been revealed after the de-occupation. Bucha, Irpin, Borodyanka, Izium... The whole world mourns the victims of these cities.
Ukrainian and international lawyers, investigators, and human rights defenders have reasons to believe that during a large-scale war, Russia is committing all types of crimes against Ukrainian citizens that may fall under the definition of genocide.
Linguocide is among them: persecution and extermination of people with a pro-Ukrainian position and for the Ukrainian language in the occupied territories; extermination of intellectuals: teachers, artists, and carriers of Ukrainian culture; introduction of a system of education and upbringing in schools aimed at changing the identity of children; deportation of children without parents to Russia with the same aim; destruction of Ukrainian books, looting of museums, etc. We have enough evidence of linguocide to confirm Russian crimes.
I will give only a few shocking numbers. According to the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, at least 1,622 children have been affected in Ukraine since the beginning of the full-scale invasion: 503 children have been killed and more than 1,119 have been injured of varying severity. The number of Ukrainian children deported to Russia reaches 307,000.
The statistics of humiliation, tortures and murders of teachers are shocking. The Ministry of Education recorded 3750 educational institutions that suffered from bombing and shelling. 361 of them were completely destroyed. Putin's mercenaries have destroyed more than 180 million Ukrainian books. About 500 libraries have been ruined. And what is happening now in the temporary occupatied territories is worse than hell.
Nevertheless, Ukraine continues to fight heroically and will win, in part because it has preserved its language, which has united society and is a powerful factor, both – of Ukrainian civic identity as well as of national security.
The language is our strong shield, and the law on language adopted in 2019 has become a reliable pillar. In the context of martial law, the functioning of the state language has become a key issue. Since the beginning of the full-scale war, most Ukrainian citizens have abandoned the Russian language and are speaking Ukrainian. Ignoring the language law is negatively perceived by Ukrainian citizens who have stood up to defend the state and realize the role of the Ukrainian language in the fight against the aggressor.
Ukraine is expecting a fateful decision on the start of negotiations on EU membership. We have already taken the necessary steps on this path: we have adopted a law on indigenous peoples and a new law on national minorities. They provide reliable guarantees for the development of other languages, applying the principles and standards of the European Union. I am convinced that Ukrainians, having deeply realized the importance of their native language, will not allow other languages to be oppressed in their country.
Once we become a member of the EU, we will be able to effectively protect the Ukrainian language, particularly in the context of digital development. The implementation of our law on the state language has shown us that legislative regulation can be an effective tool for protecting the state language from the pressure of the Russian language, which until recently dominated the Ukrainian Internet segment and the digital technology market. Like the EU countries, we also face problems of pressure from international corporations that are unwilling to take into account the language rights of Ukrainians. Solving these problems alone is extremely difficult and inefficient. That is why we sincerely support the draft Statement on the access to media and communication devices in all European languages, which is being submitted to the General Assembly. We believe that the corresponding EU acts would protect not only the EU languages but also other languages, as it will stimulate investment in ensuring multilingualism in digital technologies.
Thank you for your support of Ukraine! We believe in our Victory!
Glory to Ukraine!