The program of one candidate doesn’t mention the Ukrainian language at all, another one considers the development of the success of the state language as his own achievement. How do Volodymyr Zelensky and Petro Poroshenko treat the Ukrainian language and whether the program promises coincide with public statements – Opinion has analyzed it.
Ukrainian language: the position of Volodymyr Zelensky
In the “Dreamland” program of now, politician Zelensky language is mentioned only… one time. However, it is unclear which language he means. The candidate simply urges everyone to unite, regardless of a bunch of indicators, in particular – and the language factor.
“We need to change the country and change ourselves. We must take responsibility for ourselves and set a good example for future generations. We need to unite everyone, who regardless of sex, language, religion, and nationality, just loves Ukraine! “.
2. Position voiced in public
For the first time, Volodymyr Zelensky has commented on the language issue in March 2014. Back then, he as a guest of the TSN TV program, turned to authorities, stressing that “language will never divide our native land.”
“I want to appeal to our today’s authorities… I ask you to respect people. Well, if in the east and in the Crimea people want to speak Russian – get off. Stay away from them. Give them the opportunity to speak Russian on legal grounds. The language will never divide our native land “, – assured the showman in Russian on the air of 1+1.
However, in 2018 the candidate in an interview with Dmytro Hordon somehow changed the rhetoric. He said that there is only one state language and it is Ukrainian. And if in the east of the country they don’t know it, then… they will learn.
“We live in Ukraine, and for me, the question of language has always been a matter of time. I believe that there is no need to force anybody, as the Ukrainian language was once burnt out of this territory. We shouldn’t blame those who speak other languages. We have no right to do it, it’s just wrong,” he said.
“We already know everything about the language. The 10th article states: the state language is Ukrainian. Everyone knows the Ukrainian language, in the east, they don’t know it – then they will learn it. They speak surzhyk there but we won’t legislate surzhyk – it’s not good. Well, that’s it, there is the Ukrainian language – a state language. And then speak as you like, I respect that.”
Instead, Dmytro Razumkov, a speaker of Zelensky headquarters, assured in an interview that the language policy was written in the candidate’s program, which states that Ukrainian is the only state language. Okay, it looks like the CEC offers us various candidates’ programs.
“In order to develop the Ukrainian language, we must follow not methods of stick, but by methods of carrot as well. We need to develop more mechanisms that stimulate the promotion of the Ukrainian language.
Today, it’s impossible to speak about global infringement of language today. For example, on airs, I speak Russian, although I can speak fluent Ukrainian. However, I believe that while the Crimea is annexed, territories in the East are occupied, the Russian army is in the territory of our state, then I, as a Russian-speaking person, don’t need any protection. Everything is all right here. There is no need in coming here with tanks to protect us. The language issue in Ukraine is a matter exclusively for politicians, who try to split the society this way. It is the thing that spoils relations between Ukrainians,” Razumkov said in Russian.
Ukrainian language: the position of Petro Poroshenko
1. Position stated in the candidate’s program
Unlike the previous candidate, the language issue is addressed more or less clearly in Poroshenko’s program. The incumbent president promises to continue the policy of supporting the Ukrainian language as a state language, as well as to protect it, investing in support of Ukrainian culture.
“We will expand the support of cultural projects – cinema, music, books, and other areas. The development of local cultural institutions will be supported, and they will become modern centers of community development,” the candidate plans in his program.
2. Position voiced in public
Well, Petro Poroshenko comments the language issue in public quite active. At the very least, one of the three postulates of this year’s campaign should be recalled, the one, where the language was added to the church and army. However, the degree of discussion is also different. In particular, the current president emphasizes that liberation from cultural occupation is no less important than overcoming physical occupation.
“Over the past five years, Ukrainian language, Ukrainian song, Ukrainian book, Ukrainian cinema have gained prominent positions in the space around us, and most importantly – in our hearts, the hearts of all Ukrainians. We managed to do it wisely without violating the rights of other languages’ speakers… We’ve stopped many years of humiliation when the Ukrainian language has literally to be saved in Ukraine. Today, its position is stronger than ever. Today we already have higher ambitions – to present our culture and language the way that the whole world can properly evaluate its beauty and power.”
Therefore, the main thesis of this candidate for language policy is Ukrainian as a component of our success, strength, and people. Moreover, Poroshenko is convinced that the Ukrainian language is the most important factor of our unity.
“We face an extremely important task – to ensure the development and functioning of the Ukrainian language as a state language in all spheres of public life and throughout Ukraine. Strengthening the role of the Ukrainian language is consolidating factor in Ukrainian society as a means of strengthening state unity. And it was for this purpose that my decree and a number of other laws signed by me were made, but I am convinced that we definitely can’t stop here.”
Therefore, it seems that the positions of the two candidates are somewhat different again. Zelensky in his program unites the people, regardless of the language, Poroshenko instead considers it as the unity factor. One of the candidates rarely comments this issue in the public sphere, sometimes even less often than his own headquarters; another one – considers the present state of the state language to be his own victory, on which, however, we shouldn’t stop.
By Dmytro Zhuravel