Today, on 18 December, Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine Oleh Nemchinov opened the workshop “Returning to Europe: Policy issues of Ukraine on freedom of conscience and ensuring the rights of national minorities and indigenous people” with a welcoming speech.
The event was organised by the State Service of Ukraine for Ethnic Policy and Freedom of Conscience and the joint project of the Council of Europe and the European Union “Support for implementing European standards relating to anti-discrimination and rights of national minorities in Ukraine”.
The workshop began with a minute of silence to honour the memory of the fallen defenders.
“We face serious challenges in ensuring the freedom of conscience guaranteed by the Constitution to everyone in our country. This year, a government bill (reg. No. 8371) was adopted in the first reading, according to which religious organisations affiliated with the centres of influence of a religious organisation (association) whose governing centre (management) is located outside Ukraine in a state that carries out armed aggression against Ukraine are not allowed to operate in Ukraine. After the Law is adopted in its entirety, the State Service for Ethnic Policy and Freedom of Conscience will have to deal with serious challenges related to the development of a number of regulations aimed at implementing the Law, as well as extensive organisational work to implement it. It is also necessary to step up efforts to assist religious communities in mobilising their resources to help Ukrainian citizens and all residents to provide assistance to the population and military affected by the humanitarian crisis caused by the russian military invasion. In particular, this includes the establishment of hubs for accommodating refugees and collecting humanitarian aid in regions across Ukraine, especially in the frontline areas,” said Oleh Nemchinov, Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.
Other speakers also made welcoming remarks: Erlend Falk, Deputy Head of the Council of Europe Office in Ukraine, Mykyta Poturaiev, Head of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy, Tetyana Shulga, Sector Manager at the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine, and Oleksandr Ilkov, Director General of the Government Office for Coordination of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration.