Hungary has been given a promise that no changes of any kind will be introduced in Ukraine in the education of the Hungarian minority until a decision is adopted by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe with respect to the relevant part of the Ukrainian education legislation, Minister of Human Capacities Zoltán Balog said after he had talks with Ukrainian Education Minister Liliya Hrynevych and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin in Kiev.

At the press conference held jointly, Mr Balog described the atmosphere of the talks in Kiev as constructive. He stressed: the Hungarian Government primarily focuses on the interests of the Hungarians in Transcarpathia/Kárpátalja. “What is good for Hungarian-speaking Ukrainian citizens is also good for Budapest”, he stressed. He said that the Hungarian Government wishes to continue talks with the Kiev leadership in agreement with them also in the future.

In his words, the Ukrainian Government expects everyone in Ukraine to speak the state language well, including people in Transcarpathia/Kárpátalja where it is important to reinforce the education of the Ukrainian language. He remarked that the Hungarian Teachers’ Federation in Transcarpathia has a number of professional proposals as to how the teaching of Ukrainian to the Hungarian minority can be made more effective.

They will engage in consultations from now on about the application of the laws that serve to ensure this, he added. “We expect that no unilateral measures should be taken with respect to the alteration of the current schooling system until the closing of these consultations, if possible, with an agreement”, he highlighted. In his words, he was given a promise to this effect by the Ukrainian Education Minister.

According to his information, both the Ukrainian Education Minister and Foreign Minister confirmed that

the Hungarian-Ukrainian treaty concluded in 1991 continues to remain in force, and this ensures education in the mother tongue for the Hungarian minority in Ukraine at every level.

“For this very reason, we expect to see no reduction in the significance and level of education in the mother tongue in the future”, he added.

A number of neighbouring countries protested against Article 7 regarding the language of education in the new Ukrainian education law signed by President Petro Poroshenko on 25 September, including Hungary, Romania and Poland. This part of the law – which would enter into force as of September 2020 – lays down: the language of education in Ukraine is Ukrainian. With a view to the implementation of this rule, education in the mother tongue for national minorities will only be permitted in the first four grades of elementary school, and only in the classes or groups of educational institutions operated by municipalities. As of grade 5, all subjects will be taught in Ukrainian. At the same time, the law allows the education of one or several subjects in the language of any of the Member States of the European Union.

Mr Balog pointed out: there is a legal dispute between Hungary and Ukraine as to whether the new education legislation curtails minority rights or not, and this is why they agreed to wait for the position of the Venice Commission.

“There is a pedagogical, an education policy issue that we shall work on together,

there is a legal part in which we are seeking the assistance of international organisations, and there is a part in which we would like to express that preserving good relations between Hungary and Ukraine is very important for us”, he said.

He remarked that the Hungarian Government has done a great deal to support Ukrainians living in Hungary in the past six years. In order for the Ukrainian Education Minister to ascertain this in person, the Minister invited her to visit Hungary.

Liliya Hrynevych stated at the press conference: the meeting was a good opportunity to dispel certain misunderstandings in connection with the new education legislation. She pointed out repeatedly that

they will not close down a single Hungarian school in Transcarpathia/Kárpátalja.

Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin reiterated: the purpose of the law is to provide equal rights and equal opportunities of advancement for every Ukrainian citizen through education, regardless of their national affiliation.

Photo: Gyula Bartos

Source: – Press release

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