Hungary and Ukraine have “completely different” positions concerning Ukraine’s recent education proposal which would deprive older students from ethnic minorities of education in their mother tongue, the Hungarian foreign minister said on Thursday after talks with his Ukrainian counterpart in Budapest.
Péter Szijjártó said Ukraine’s Hungarian community did not support the contested package.
“Hungary does not want a fight but an agreement,” he said.
Hungarians in Transcarpathia/Kárpátalja, in western Ukraine, should be handed back their rights, he added.
“As long as the local Hungarian community is unhappy with the situation” Hungary will insist on its decision not to support Ukraine in international organisations, Szijjártó said. Provisions which affect the Hungarian minority should be dropped, he added.
Szijjarto said that
the new law, under which the language of tuition in secondary schools and higher education would be exclusively Ukrainian, was like “a stab in the back” for Hungary,
which had “taken a number of risky decisions” to help Ukraine. For example, he mentioned Hungarian gas supplies to Ukraine, treating injured Ukrainian soldiers in Hungary, various aid programmes, and
Hungary’s encouraging the EU to grant a visa-free status to entrants from Ukraine.
The minister said that further draft amendments affecting minorities submitted to the Ukrainian parliament on Monday, would jeopardise the existence of 71 schools for the Hungarian minority. He added that the package was in conflict with the EU-Ukraine association agreement, and said that Hungary would request a review of the agreement next Monday.
Pavlo Klimkin, the Ukrainian minister, said at the press conference that the draft was “not aimed at people”. It was designed to help all Ukrainian citizens to success; “if a Ukrainian national cannot speak Ukrainian well, they will miss out on a lot of opportunities,” he said. He also insisted that
no schools would be closed and “not a single teacher will be dismissed” because of the new law.
Also we wrote in the same topic, the Council of Europe must make a firm stand for the protection of minority language education, since Ukraine’s new education law affects not just a single community but minority education systems in general, the head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee said after talks with the secretary-general of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on Wednesday.
We wrote on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Szijjártó would initiate the review of the agreement at next Monday’s meeting of EU foreign ministers.