“By seriously violating minority rights and adopting the new Education Act, in addition to contravening its commitments towards the European Union, Ukraine has also failed to fulfil its NATO commitments”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared on Wednesday in Brussels in the recess of the two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

“In its annual national programme, Ukraine undertook to respect and develop minority rights, but the adoption of the new Education Act is totally at odds with this. By adopting the Education Act, Ukraine is not performing a bilateral campaign against Hungary, but is failing to fulfil its international undertakings”, the Minister highlighted.

“If it is important to Ukraine to restore its cooperation with NATO, then it must withdraw the Education Act. And if there are other countries for which it is important for dialogue to be re-established, then they should convince Ukraine to conform to its international commitments”, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade stressed.

Mr. Szijjártó declared that Hungary is not prepared to sacrifice the interests of the Hungarian minority in Transcarpathia on the altar of any kind of geopolitical game, and accordingly it is against NATO accepting the situation that has been brought about by Ukraine. “If Ukraine retracts the legislation, Hungary will once again be one of the loudest proponents of Ukraine’s European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations”, the Minister said.

“If Ukraine wants Transcarpathian Hungarians to acquire a better understanding of the state language, then it should develop the effectiveness of Ukrainian language teaching, but it cannot take away the right of the Hungarian minority to attend school in their native language”, Mr. Szijjártó underlined.

In early September, Ukraine’s Parliament voted to adopt the newly amended Education Act, which restricts the availability of native language education for national minorities to a nursery school and primary school level and makes Ukrainian the mandatory language for education in secondary school and higher education. Several neighbouring countries including Hungary, Poland and Romania have protested against Article 7 of the new legislation, which was also signed by President Petro Poroshenko. This section of the Act, which is otherwise due to come into force in September 2020, states: The language for education in Ukraine shall be Ukrainian. In addition to realising this, native language education for national minorities will only be permitted up to fourth grade and only in separate classes or groups in education institutions maintained by local authorities. Beginning from fifth grade, all subjects will be exclusively taught in Ukrainian, although the legislation does allow one or two, and more subjects to be taught in the language of any European Union member state.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade/MTI)