Romania and Hungary to Carry on Cooperation against Ukrainian Educational Law
Ábrahám Vass 2018.02.06.
No minority in Ukraine can suffer a violation of their rights to education, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said after discussing the Ukrainian education law with Teodor Meleșcanu, his Romanian counterpart, in Bucharest. The law, passed last autumn, bans post-primary-level education in minority languages.
Szijjártó and Meleșcanu agreed that they would continue to cooperate in their opposition to the law so that Ukraine cannot violate the acquired rights of its ethnic minorities. The two officials were also in agreement that the Ukrainian government should discuss the law with the country’s minority groups before implementing it. Kiev must also respect the Venice Commission’s recommendations in connection with the law, Szijjártó said. The minister reiterated that the Hungarian government wants to continue cooperating with Romania on the issue of the Ukrainian education law based on mutual respect. “One aspect of this is that we mutually respect the rights of minorities in line with European standards and view them as assets,” he said.
Szijjártó said the Hungarian government was paying close attention to the situation of a church school in Târgu Mureș (Marosvásárhely) whose operation had been suspended by Romania last year. The government trusts that Romania will honour a promise made by Parliamentary Speaker Liviu Dragnea to resolve the school’s situation, Szijjártó added. “We are continuously monitoring this situation and we are also in contact with the leaders of the [ethnic Hungarian] RMDSZ party.” The planned closure of the Roman Catholic High School generated a protest as the move was seen by many as an attack against the Hungarian community. As a response, Hungary threateaned to suspend support for Romania’s aspirations to join various international organizations, such as OECD.
Péter Szijjártó with Romanian counterpart Teodor Meleșcanu. Photo: KKM.
Ukraine’s controversial educational law would restrict education in minority languages to kindergartens and primary schools. According to the latest census, around 150.000 Hungarians reside in Ukraine mostly in the Zakarpattya (Transcarpathia) district and approximately the same number of Romanians mostly in the Chernivtsi district. Romania is a critical of the law as well, but so far Hungary seemed louder. Up until the law has been announced, Hungary has been one of the most active supporters of Ukraine’s integration efforts, but then Hungary for example vetoed a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission.