“Ukraine has stabbed Hungary in the back by amending its education act, which strongly violates the rights of the Hungarian minority”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in a telephone statement to Hungarian news agency MTI from Tallinn, where he is attending an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers.

The two-day meeting, which began on Thursday, is being hosted by the current President of the Council of the European Union, Estonia. In addition to member state foreign ministers, the meeting is also being attended by diplomatic representatives of countries that are cooperating with the EU within the framework of the Eastern partnership, including Ukraine.

In the statement, Mr. Szijjártó said that in his view one of the most important topics on the meeting’s agenda was the amendment of Ukraine’s Act on Education, which was adopted this week. “We regard it as shameful that the amendment strongly violated the rights of the Hungarian minority, and it is shameful that a country that is striving to develop an increasingly close relationship with the European Union has made a decision that is in complete opposition to European values. It is unacceptable that Ukraine has stripped Hungarians of their right to study in their native language in schools and universities, and have only left them an opportunity to do so in nursery schools and primary schools”, the Hungarian Foreign Minister said.

The legislative amendment is endangering the operations of the majority of schools in Transcarpathia, he added.

“Ukraine’s decision not only violates the interests of the 150 thousand strong Hungarian minority, but for Ukraine to ignore its international commitments also goes against European values, Accordingly, the Hungarian Government will step up at all possible European forums to ensure that the new regulations do not come into force”, Mr. Szijjártó said.

The Minister was particularly critical of the fact that the decision is especially unfriendly towards Hungary, in view of the fact that in recent months Budapest was made it clear to the Ukrainian administration on several occasions that the amendment is a strong violation of Hungarian interests, but Kiev has adopted the amendment regardless.

“It has done so despite the fact that in recent years Hungary has provided Ukraine with several forms of assistance that were of fundamental importance with regard to the European integration process, as well as to Ukraine’s social and security situation”, he said.

“We were the loudest proponents of visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens, we were the first to ratify the association agreement between the EU and Ukraine, we transport natural gas to Ukraine via Hungary, we have provided Ukraine with 600 million forints in humanitarian aid, and have provided free holidays in Hungary for 2600 Ukrainian children during the past three years. Accordingly, Ukraine’s education policy decision can only be regarded as a stab in the back for Hungary and the Hungarian people”, Mr. Szijjártó said.

The threat posed by North Korea is also on the agenda of the two-day meeting, with relation to which the Hungarian Foreign Minister said that according to the Hungarian standpoint, North Korea’s leader is a mad and unpredictable communist dictator, and as such must be regarded as a global threat. Hungary supports the fact that the major powers with decisive voice in the matter, meaning the United States, Japan, China and Russia, should agree as soon as possible on a solution with which North Korea can be forced to immediately stop its nuclear program.