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Language issue threatens Ukraine's security-Communist leader

"Our party stresses that foot-dragging on the language issue is a real threat to Ukraine's national security," said Petro Symonenko.
KIEV, September 14 (RIA Novosti) - The leader of Ukraine's Communists said Thursday failure to resolve the language problem jeopardizes Ukraine's national security.

The status of the Russian language was one of the hotly debated issues that delayed the signing of a national unity agreement on key policies by President Viktor Yushchenko and parliamentary leaders before Viktor Yanukovych's appointment as prime minister last month. The sides eventually agreed to keep Ukrainian as the main state language, without entrenching it as the only official language.

"Our party stresses that foot-dragging on the language issue is a real threat to Ukraine's national security," said Petro Symonenko, whose party is part of a ruling coalition that also comprises the Party of Regions, the Socialists and some members of pro-presidential Our Ukraine. "In particular, delay in granting Russian the status as a second state language is in conflict with Ukraine's European choice."

He said the current policy pursued by the authorities in the language realm antagonized certain forces in Russia who speculated on this problem and created an unfavorable political climate, impeding the normalization of Ukrainian-Russian relations.

"We are planting a humanitarian time bomb in relations with Russia," he said. "This also affects economic matters."

Yanukovych said last month that granting Russian the status of an official language in the country was impossible under current conditions, but that Ukraine needed a law to regulate the use of the Russian language, in line with the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

Symonenko said the Communist faction would advocate budget spending in full on programs to enable the Charter to be applied in Ukraine.

The Communist Party, which has 21 seats in the 450-member Supreme Rada, will also advocate a long-debated common economic space for Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, he said.

"The creation of the common economic space should be an important part of the government's anti-crisis program, along with the formation of a gas-transportation venture, comprising Ukraine, Russia and interested parties from Europe and Asia," he said.

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