The development of education is key to maintaining and further developing the institutional system for ethnic Hungarians abroad, state secretary in charge of Hungarian communities abroad said on Wednesday at a conference marking Hungarian Diaspora Day.
Árpád János Potápi told a conference focusing on legal protection for ethnic Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin that a scheme dubbed Sándor Petőfi has been successful, resulting the re-opening of Hungarian schools, more opportunities for language training and the opening of diaspora centres.
The operation of the existing 213 weekend and Sunday schools is planned to be harmonised and there are plans to set up school centres.
Those living in regions with large ethnic Hungarian communities should have the opportunity to study all subjects in Hungarian even in secondary school, he said.
The resources for Hungarian communities beyond the border have grown tenfold since 2009 and exceeded 73 billion forints (EUR 235m) last year, he added.
Human resources ministry state secretary Bence Rétvári said a scheme dubbed “Borderless” has attracted over 183,000 participants since 2013. It helped 7th-grade students from Hungary visit areas with large ethnic Hungarian communities in neighbouring countries. Also, secondary school classes in Hungary have run joint projects with classes of ethnic Hungarians abroad. A total of 8.7 billion forints has been spent on the project since launch, including 4.1 billion forints last year, he added.
Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén said in an interview with public channel M1 that Hungary’s constitution clearly states that the country undertakes responsibility for all Hungarians around the world, which demonstrates a much stronger commitment than in the past approach regarding the state’s responsibility. The government has fulfilled this undertaking in every respect by, for instance, offering Hungarian citizenship in a fast-track procedure, he added.
“There is a full consensus in Hungarian society and in the Hungarian parliament” that ethnic Hungarians abroad have the right to autonomy and citizenship, Semjén said, adding that voting rights are inseparable from the latter.
The deputy PM also said that Ukraine’s new education law was a “brutal attack” by nationalist leaders against the ethnic Hungarian’s institutional system there. Hungary used to be a flagbearer for Ukraine’s visa-free status in the European Union, but since Ukraine had acted wrongly, Hungary would now block “everything that’s important to them” until the law is withdrawn, he added.
Co-ruling Christian Democrats lawmaker Rózsa Hoffmann told a press conference that it is important to highlight the importance of protecting minority languages because this would promote peace and stability in Europe. Only 25 of the 47 member countries so far have ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, said noted, calling for change in this state of affairs. Within the European Union’s population of 500 million, some 70 million people belong to a linguistic minority, so the issue concerns many more than Hungarians, she added.
Péter Ungár, the green opposition LMP party’s board member, told a press conference that rights acquired by ethnic Hungarians beyond the borders must not be taken away.
LMP condemns a Democratic Coalition (DK) initiative to withdraw their voting rights, he said. At the same time, the right to vote by mail should be guaranteed not only to ethnic Hungarians beyond the border but also to emigrants who left Hungary out of economic necessity, he added.
Featured image: MTI