OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) Astrid Thors visited Ukraine from 2 to 6 November 2016, including trips to Kyiv as well as Mariupol, where she assessed the inter-ethnic situation in south-eastern Ukraine.
In Kyiv, Thors discussed the status of modernizing the institutional framework for inter-ethnic relations. She urged the authorities, in consultation with representatives of minority communities, to establish a designated executive body that would be a main governmental interlocutor for minorities in Ukraine.
She also discussed the impact that the package of “de-Communization laws” and associated policies may have on social cohesion and the integration of Ukrainian society. She noted that in some communities, such as in Mariupol, there are divergent views on the implementation of these laws.
Thors also discussed the situation in Crimea with a variety of interlocutors, including in the context of the recent Human Rights Assessment Mission Report, published jointly by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the HCNM.
Near Mariupol, Thors visited the village of Sartana, one of a number of villages in the area inhabited by the ethnic Greek community that are located close to the contact line in the Anti-Terrorist Operation zone. There she met with representatives of the ethnic Greek community and the municipal authorities, and visited a local school that provides teaching of the Greek language with support from the Education Ministry.