Hungary, Ukraine still at odds over Ukraine education law

Remigio Civitarese
Ottobre 13, 2017

The foreign ministers of Hungary and Ukraine clashed on Thursday over Ukraine's new law banning teaching in minority languages, with Budapest threatening to retaliate by blocking Ukraine's aspirations to integration in the European Union.

Ukraine, which has sizable Hungarian, Russian and Romanian minorities, passed legislation on September 5 obliging teachers to use only Ukrainian in secondary schools, saying it wanted to help minorities integrate and get public sector jobs.

He said relations between neighbors Hungary and Ukraine are "at their most hard period" since Ukraine declared independence from the collapsing Soviet Union in 1991.

At a joint news conference with Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin following talks, Szijjarto said Budapest was also anxious about two other bills about citizenship and language now in the Kiev parliament.

Klimkin said not knowing the native language made it hard for minorities to be successful in Ukraine. "We would like for the citizenship law not to curb (local) Hungarians' rights further".

"As long as the Hungarians of Transcarpathia ask us to fight on this issue and not back down, we will fight and not back down", Szijjarto said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said Kyiv did not intend to crack down on the Hungarian community in Ukraine, including their right to the use of their mother tongue.

Ukraine will take into account the recommendations of the Venice Commission regarding the law "On Education".

However, he said "not a single school" would be closed or "a single teacher" dismissed because of the new language requirement. "Our logic is simple: every citizen must speak Ukrainian beside their mother tongue to ensure their future success".

Ukrainian Deputy Justice Minister Natalia Sevostyanova said this live on the 112 Ukraine television channel on October 12, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.

Klimkin said Hungary's move to grant Hungarian citizenship to ethnic Hungarians living in Ukraine would not benefit those people.

The two leaders ended the news conference in agreement to disagree. "In any case, I am sure that reference to the Venice Commission is the best way out of this situation, and all their recommendations will be taken into account", Sevostyanova said.

Kyiv's legislation has also ruffled feathers in Romania.

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