“The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s High Commissioner on National Minorities Lamberto Zannier also shares our concerns with relation to Ukraine’s Education Act”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in a telephone statement to Hungarian news agency MTI on Tuesday from Palermo, Italy, where he is attending an OSCE Mediterranean Partnership conference.

Mr. Szijjártó highlighted the fact that the OSCE is the most willing to help from among the international organisations contacted by Hungarian, Romanian, Bulgarian and Greek diplomats.

“We agreed that everyone must fulfil their international obligations. And in its Association Agreement with the European Union, Ukraine undertook to continuously expand the respect it affords to minority rights, but in contrast the adoption of the new Education Act points in the absolutely opposite direction”, Mr. Szijjártó underlined following his meeting with the Italian diplomat, who was the OSCE’s previous Secretary General.

The Minister reported on the fact that Mr. Zannier had told him that he himself had also raised the issue with Ukrainian leaders on several occasions and was continuously monitoring the issue and keeping it on the agenda, and would soon be visiting Ukraine to personally speak with Ukrainian officials about it.

“Hungary and the Hungarian Government will always stand up for the interests of cross-border Hungarians. We regard this Ukrainian legislative amendment to be unacceptable and will not be satisfied until Transcarpathian Hungarians tell us that the situation is satisfactory to them”, the Hungarian Foreign Minister emphasised.

Several neighbouring countries have protested with relation to Article 7 of the new Ukrainian Education Act signed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on 25 September on the language of education, including Hungary, Romania and Poland. This part of the new legislation, which will only come into force in September 2020, states that in Ukraine the language of education is Ukrainian.

If this is realised, national minorities will only be able to study in their native language up to the age of ten (4th grade), and only in separate classes or forms in education institutions maintained by local municipalities. Beginning from 5th grade, all subjects will be taught in Ukrainian, although the law will also enable the teaching of a few subjects in the language of any European Union member state.