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Hungarian Foreign Ministry Denies Reports on Agreement over Ukraine’s Education Law

Ábrahám Vass 2018.02.09.

Hungary and Ukraine have not reached an agreement on the latter’s controversial education law, despite reports to the contrary, according to Tamás Menczer, Deputy State Secretary of the Foreign Ministry. Menczer also claimed that Ukraine has yet to comply with the recommendations of the Venice Commission, the EU’s advisory body on issues of constitutional law. 

His statement came after Ukrainian reports emerged of an alleged agreement between the two foreign ministries on the law, which was passed last September, and which restricts minority language use in Ukrainian education to kindergarten and elementary schools. Menczer argued reports of any agreement were “fabrications”. “Hungary’s stance is firm and unchanged,” Menczer said, adding that

Budapest will continue to block Ukraine’s international political aspirations until Transcarpathia Hungarians report that they are satisfied with all details of the law.

Ukraine’s controversial education law, passed by its parliament on September 5th, states that its aim is to “modernize education”, through reforms to be introduced from September 2018. Concerning the language of education, the 7th paragraph of the law states that Ukraine’s official language of education is Ukrainian, and the use of minority languages is allowed only in the first four grades of primary education. The law has stirred up immense controversy and anger internationally, as Russia, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Greece, and Moldova all reacted quite harshly to what has been perceived by many commentators as an attack on minority rights in Ukraine.

The entire Hungarian political spectrum was on the same page in protesting against the bill. Shortly after its passage, the Orbán government declared that all diplomatic means would be used to make Ukraine withdraw the legislation. Since then, Hungary has vetoed a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission on Ukraine’s integration.

At the end of January, Péter Szijjártó Foreign Minister met with Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin with the participation of Wess Mitchell, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. At this meeting, Szijjártó argued that instead of promises he needed legal guarantees; despite these talks, to date no further agreements have been reached.


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