The intergovernmental working group on the Ukrainian Education Act proposed by Hungary to Ukraine will convene in the second half of June, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó announced.

Mr. Szijjártó issued a statement to Hungarian news agency MTI following talks with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Tuesday.

“Hungary’s most important concern in this issue is the protection of Transcarpathian Hungarians, whose rights cannot be impaired”, he stated following the meeting, adding “We have no interest in a dispute, however, only in finding a solution”.

“Accordingly, Hungary is highly appreciative of the fact and views it as a definitely positive development that one of the conditions it has requested will be met next week, in view of the fact that the Ukrainian Education Minister has invited the leaders of the Hungarian national community for a consultation on 5 June”, he stressed, adding: “Hopefully this consultation will be successful”.

Mr. Szijjártó pointed out that Ukrainian Parliament’s Education Committee recently extended the deadline for the implementation of the Education Act to 2023. “And now we have agreed that the first session of the intergovernmental working group will be convened in Berehove (Beregszász) in the second half of June”, he explained.

The working group will be tasked with monitoring the implementation of the Venice Commission’s official opinion and assuring the success of bilateral consultations, he noted.

The Foreign Minister also spoke about the fact that the Education Ministers and Foreign Ministers of the two countries and the leader of the Hungarian minority in Transcarpathia will participate in the first session of the working group. “Hopefully, this working group represents another significant step forward towards finding a solution in the interests of Transcarpathian Hungarians”, he said. “The path to a solution leads through consultations, and it would now seem that we will be able to put this consultation process onto the right track”, the Minister added.

Article 7 of the new Education Act passed by Ukrainian Parliament last September provoked fierce protests from several countries, including neighbouring Hungary, Romania and Poland. This article of the new legislation states that the language of education in Ukraine shall be Ukrainian. Accordingly, in addition to Ukrainian, national minorities shall only be permitted to receive education in their native language until grade 4 (age 10); beginning in grade 5, all subjects shall be taught in Ukrainian. According to the affected minority organisations, Article 7 violates the Ukrainian Constitution and several existing Ukrainian laws, as well as the country’s commitments according to international treaties and agreements.