Hungarian Parliament Unanimously Condemns Ukraine’s “Unlawful” Education Law
Tamás Székely 2017.09.20.
Hungarian lawmakers on Tuesday unanimously passed a five-party decree condemning “the unlawful Ukrainian education law” and urging measures to be taken against it. The motion was initiated in response to Ukraine’s new education law that bans post-primary-level education in minority languages.
The decree states that the law seriously restricts the rights of Ukraine’s Hungarian community to education and use of their mother tongue. Further, the new law not only violates European norms but also is counter to a number of fundamental international treaties that Ukraine voluntarily signed up to on protecting a minority’s ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity, it added. The decree urges the leaders of Ukraine to respect “common European values of democracy and the rule of law” and to stop the new law from taking effect. It also calls on the Hungarian government to take every possible measure to prevent the new law’s enforcement.
Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz (left) and his Hungarian counterpart Péter Szijjártó (right) have held talks on the sidelines of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly in New York (photo: kormany.hu)
Meanwhile, Hungarian Foreign Minister said that Hungary would turn to the UN to protest Ukraine’s new education law that „bars mother-tongue teaching in public schools beyond the age of ten, given that the law violates the global body’s rules on minorities.”
Speaking by phone from New York, where he is attending the 72nd General Assembly, Péter Szijjártó said Hungary has asked the body to put pressure on Ukraine to withdraw the law that infringes the country’s international commitments as well as European and UN rules. Hungary has also written a letter to the High Commissioner for Human Rights asking Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to investigate the situation. It has also asked Austrian foreign minister Sebastian Kurz, who currently fulfils the rotating presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to pressurise Ukraine not to implement the law.
The amendment, which is “contrary to all European values and regulations”, comes at a time when Ukraine is trying to strengthen its ties with the EU, Szijjártó said. He added that he has instructed Hungarian diplomats working alongside UN bodies to block all initiatives launched by or important for Ukraine. Hungary will also insist that the UN Human Rights Council, which meets this week in Geneva, should not accept a joint European statement unless it condemns Ukrainian developments.
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. 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.