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Ukrainian Minority Act Amendment May Lead to Arbitrary Interpretations

Hungary Today 2023.09.11.

The amendments to the Minority Act recently adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament in its first reading do not restore the former rights of national minorities in Ukraine, the Transcarpathian Hungarian Cultural Association and the Hungarian Democratic Alliance in Ukraine argued in a joint statement. The two most important Hungarian interest organizations in Ukraine said they regret to note that their demands were not taken into account when the law was amended.

According to the organizations, in the amendment, an important criterion in the definition of national minorities, namely that “its representatives traditionally live on the territory of Ukraine,” has been deleted.

This will ultimately lead to “the elimination of the concept of national minorities and the exclusion of any collective right to minorities. Moreover, “several clauses of the law are discriminatory or purely declarative, which may give rise to arbitrary interpretations,”

according to the statement.


Hungarian interest organizations in Ukraine have previously criticized the new Minority Act of Ukraine, adopted in December 2022, and its planned amendments on several occasions. According to them, the law not only reinforces the restrictions on rights previously codified in the Education and Language Law that was hurtful to Hungarian communities, but also introduces new ones, and it “does not guarantee the preservation of compact nationality settlement areas, nor the use of nationality symbols.” Even the Council of Europe’s constitutional expert body, the Venice Commission, spoke out against the new law, reinforcing the fact that all persons belonging to national minorities in Ukraine have the right to the free and unhindered use of their mother tongue in private and public life, in speech, and writing.

In Ukraine, the law on minorities and its impact on education has recently caused a stir. In Mukachevo (Munkács, Ukraine), the opening of the school year at the Francis II Rákóczi High School was significantly different from the long-standing tradition. The Hungarian flag is now missing from the building, the Hungarian anthem was not played, and the national ribbon was removed from the bell. Moreover, the Hungarian headmaster of the school was recently dismissed from his position.

The new headmistress, Marija Pauk, said that the Hungarian community could not exercise their constitutionally guaranteed rights to use the symbols at the ceremony, because they were currently living in Ukraine.

“The state symbol, the coat of arms, the flag, and the anthem are Ukrainian, so there will be only such flags throughout Ukraine. We only apply the law, we live in Ukraine and use Ukrainian symbols,” she stated.

Systematic Harassment of Hungarian Teachers in Ukraine Continues
Systematic Harassment of Hungarian Teachers in Ukraine Continues

The deprivation of rights of the Hungarian minority continues in Ukraine.Continue reading

The Transcarpathian Hungarian Teachers’ Association, however, is of a different opinion. According to the organization’s president, Ildikó Orosz,

the Hungarians of Transcarpathia have lived in their homeland for hundreds of years and want to be state-building factors, with the rights and opportunities that go with it.

As a result, they are “persistently” asking for the rights taken away in the field of mother tongue education to be restored.

At the opening ceremony of the county’s Hungarian schools in Vyshkovo (Visk, Ukraine), Orosz said that teachers had stood their ground in the past school year, which was full of uncertainties. The association continues to consider the support of the operation and development of the Hungarian educational institutions in Transcarpathia as its most important task. Among its achievements, she highlighted the association’s contribution to the creation of kindergartens that allow for attendance education, the holding of subject competitions, summer camps, and teacher training courses.

According to a preliminary survey by the Transcarpathian Hungarian Teachers’ Association,

Hungarian classes have been opened in 99 schools this year, where a total of nearly 15,000 children are studying. The number of first-graders exceeds 1,100, which is close to last year’s figure.

“We did not come here as migrants, we were born here and have lived here for hundreds of years,” Orosz emphasized. “With perseverance we are asking for the restoration of our rights that have been take away in the field of mother tongue education,” she urged.

At the end of the opening ceremony, a statement was read out, calling on the relevant state bodies to ensure the restoration of previously existing educational and language rights.

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Ukrainian Minority Act a Breach of International Law, Says Foreign Minister

No further money is in sight for Ukraine until they return the rights of the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia.Continue reading

Featured photo via Facebook/KMKSZ – Kárpátaljai Magyar Kulturális Szövetség

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