Hungarian government to request delayed implementation of Ukrainian law on national minorities

March 14. 2023. – 07:47 PM


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The Hungarian government has requested the assistance of the High Commissioner on National Minorities of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in delaying the implementation of a new Ukrainian law that would effectively close down minority schools in the country from September, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in The Hague on Tuesday.

The Ukrainian parliament adopted a new law on national minorities last December. The adoption of the law was one of the conditions for Ukraine to start negotiations on its accession to the European Union.

The Hungarian government has protested the fact that, while there are currently ninety-nine primary and secondary schools in Ukraine that operate as Hungarian national minority educational institutions, the new law will change them from minority to state schools with only a certain degree of access to the Hungarian language from 1 September. In addition, a regulation is set to come into force that will gradually reduce the proportion of classes taught in Hungarian from the fourth grade upwards to just 40 percent, and will also abolish matriculation examinations, entrance examinations and vocational training in the minorities' mother tongue.

Following a Hungarian-Romanian joint initiative, the Strasbourg-based Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe referred the issue of the rights of minorities in Transcarpathia to the Venice Commission in February.

According to MTI (the Hungarian State News Agency), the Hungarian Foreign Minister said in The Hague that the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Kairat Abdrakhmanov, had offered his help in getting the implementation of the law in Ukraine postponed. According to Szijjártó, Abdrakhmanov also agreed with him that "this is a situation that is clearly unacceptable and contrary to international law".

The minister stressed that the government would continue to stand up for Hungarians living across the border, many of whom have been conscripted in Ukraine and many of whom have already died on the front line. "Of course, we will give them all our support and we will speak out in all international organisations to ensure that Ukraine does not prevent Hungarian minority schools from operating from 1 September," he said.

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