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Ukraine’s parliament approves minorities bill, seen as key for EU talks

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(Reuters) -The Ukrainian parliament on Friday approved three bills necessary to start European Union accession talks, including one on national minorities’ rights, a critical demand from Hungary which opposes Ukraine’s EU bid.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy signed all three bills into law and described them as a key step in Ukraine’s application to join the 27-member EU.

An EU summit next week is to consider whether to start negotiations on membership with Ukraine, and neighbouring ex-Soviet Moldova, which Kyiv sees as vital to anchoring itself in Western institutions.

EU leaders must unanimously approve the move and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban says he opposes starting talks as recommended by the EU Commission.

“We expect that Ukraine’s efforts will be duly appreciated by leaders of the European Union and the corresponding European promises to Ukraine will be fulfilled,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.

Ukraine, he said, had “done everything expected of us” in taking on EU recommendations.

Zelenskiy said the minority rights law had considered recommendations from the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, which advises on legal and institutional standards.

Budapest has clashed with Kyiv over what it says are curbs on the rights ethnic Hungarians in western Ukraine, in particular regarding education.

The other two bills adopted concern staff increases in the National Anti-Corruption Bureau and additional power for the National Agency on Corruption Prevention on assets checks.

“Just now Ukrainian parliament passed three out of four laws by constitutional majority identified by the European Commission as leftovers in the EU Enlargement report,” Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna said on X.

She added that a fourth requirement – a law on lobbying – was approved by the cabinet on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Yuliia Dysa and Ron Popeski; Editing by Toby Chopra and Daniel Wallis)

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