The Hungarian government has strenuously protested a recent education law passed by Ukraine’s parliament, János Árpad Potápi, state secretary in charge of policy for Hungarian communities abroad, said on Wednesday.
Under the new Ukrainian law, secondary school and higher education courses will only be available in Ukrainian, while education in minority languages are restricted to kindergartens and primary schools. Potápi said:
It is an unprecedented curbing of the rights of 150,000 ethnic Hungarians and totally unconstitutional
According to Potápi’s statement, the new law strips Ukraine’s ethnic minorities of access to schooling in their mother tongue, restricting their opportunities to prosper in their homeland. The new legislation contradicts Ukraine’s earlier pledges not to curb the rights of its Hungarian minority, Potápi said. The Hungarian government expects Ukraine to re-consider enforcing the law and to change it so the rights of ethnic minorities are not harmed, the statement added.
The official aim of the reform is to “bring Ukrainian education closer to European standards“, however, the new law is also expanding the role of the Ukrainian language in education, as opposed to Russian and other minority languages, including Hungarian.
According to the latest census, around 150000 ethnic Hungarians live in Transcarpathia, a region which had belonged to Hungary before the First World War, to Czechoslovakia in the interwar period and to the Soviet Union following the Second World War, and which has become part of the independent Ukraine in 1991. In recent years, tens of thousands of ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine have been naturalised.