The National Assembly of Artsakh Republic published on its website the draftlaw on amendments to the Law on Language, which proposes granting Russian the status of an official language and maintaining Armenian as the state language. Mediamax presents 3 key questions and answers to them to explain the bill.
1․ Why is Russian language getting a status?
The draftlaw reasons that the long-term presence of Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh, the need to find jointly solutions for various social and communication issues, and the cooperation in construction, healthcare, education and science requires a reassessment of the role of Russian language.
“Given the historical memory of cultural, military and economic relations between Artsakh and Russia, as well as the fact that Russian is the second language of many people of Artsakh, we consider it important to reassess the new relations and form a new agenda. In this context, we consider it a priority to lift the status of Russian language, which will create necessary conditions for strengthening cooperation in all areas and facilitate development of relations in legal framework in the visible future,” reads the bill.
2․ What will be the status of Russian language?
The bill proposes establishing Armenian and Russian as the official languages of Artsakh Republic.
If the bill is passed and Russian becomes an official language, official operations could be done in Russian as well.
Thus, Artsakh Republic might encourage publication of materials, including media reports, in both Armenian and Russian, as well as publication of textbooks in Russian and creation of education institutions, information centers, scientific and popular scientific literature in Russian.
3․ What is the difference between official language and state language?
Article 1 of the Law on language and Article 20 of the Artsakh Constitution indicate that Armenian is the state language of the Artsakh Republic. The new draftlaw does not change that.
The law establishes two categories for the status of a language in Artsakh, distinguishing between state and official. The existing Law on language provides the following definitions:
The state language of Artsakh Republic is the prevailing language in the republic, as established in the Constitution and legislation, with protection and sponsorship of the republic.
The official language is the language that complies with the grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation rules of Armenian language, serves for official operations and for the literary and scientific needs of the society.
The new draftlaw does not concern the state language and defines the official language as “the language that serves for official operations and for the literary and scientific needs of the society.”