EducationForeign Affairs

Hungary To Raise Ukraine’s “Anti-European” Education Law At International Forums

The Hungarian government is to call on the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the UN and the EU Commissioner for neighbourhood policy and enlargement negotiations to act on the Ukrainian education bill curbing the right to minority language education, the foreign minister said. It is Hungary’s duty to protect all Hungarians, whether they live in the country or abroad, Péter Szijjártó said.

In an amendment accepted last Tuesday, education in minority languages in Ukraine has been restricted to kindergartens and primary schools. Commenting on the changes, Szijjártó said earlier the amendment threatened the operations of a significant number of Hungarian schools in western Ukraine’s Transcarpathia region. He said the law was also in violation of Ukraine’s international commitments.

On Monday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met Transcarpathian Hungarian Cultural Association (KMKSZ) leader László Brenzovics to discuss Ukraine’s new education law, the PM’s press chief said, adding that the law is bad for Hungary-Ukraine ties and breaches Ukraine’s international obligations. The two officials were in agreement that the new education law approved by the Ukrainian parliament would hinder education in minority languages, including Hungarian. This infracts the Ukrainian constitution and the country’s international obligations, as well as souring Ukraine-Hungarian ties, Bertalan Havasi said.

“Hungary, Ukraine and the ethnic Hungarians in Transcarpathia have a vested interest in good neighbourly relations, but such measures buck them,” Havasi said. Hungary has consistently stood up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and European Union integration, and has vocally supported an EU visa waiver for Ukrainians. Orbán and Brenzovics were in agreement that the Ukrainian decision affecting ethnic Hungarians “is especially unfitting”, he said.

Meanwhile, Hungary’s parliamentary parties have called on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to send the bill back to parliament. Speaking to the press after five-party talks, Zsolt Németh, the head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, called the law “anti-European” and said it would violate basic human and minority rights if it came into effect. He added that the law could “further destabilise” Ukraine.

Foreign ministry state secretary Levente Magyar welcomed the parliamentary parties’ joint opposition to the law and support “for Hungary’s national interests”. He said Hungary would not suspend, but rather step up, its humanitarian and development aid to Ukraine, arguing that “blind politics”, rather than the recipients of Hungarian aid, was to blame for the education law.

via hungarymatters.hu and MTI