Law restoring Hungarian minority's language rights adopted by Ukrainian Parliament

December 11. 2023. – 08:50 AM


Law restoring Hungarian minority's language rights adopted by Ukrainian Parliament
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the inauguration of Argentine President Javier Milei on 10 December – Photo: Alejandro Pagni / AFP


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The Ukrainian parliament has passed the law that restores the language rights of the country's national minorities, among them the Transcarpathian Hungarians, Népszava and Ukrinform reported. All relevant laws and regulations must be adapted within six months of the adoption of the minority law. The newly adopted law has taken into account the recommendations of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe as well.

According to the official website of the Ukrainian Parliament, the amendment has already been signed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. "Ukraine has done everything it was expected to do to implement EU recommendations", Reuters quotes Zelensky as saying.

As previously reported, the law eliminates passages that according to the Hungarian government make it impossible for the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia to study in their mother tongue, or to even use their mother tongue in general. This issue has been the source of major tensions in Hungarian-Ukrainian diplomacy.

The new legislation ensures that in schools where the members of the community speak one of the official languages of the European Union, education will be provided in their mother tongue as well as in Ukrainian, Ukrinform reports. The language of communication in schools will also be left to the institution, and taking school-leaving exams will be possible in Hungarian as well – except in the case of Ukrainian language and literature and the history of Ukraine, as before.

According to Népszava, in addition to the law on minorities, an amendment to an anti-corruption law was also adopted on Friday. With Friday's amendment, the Kyiv parliament increased the number of staff in Ukraine's National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) from 700 to 1,000. Both laws reflect EU standards on several points.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's main arguments for not supporting Ukraine's EU accession have been corruption and minority rights, but he recently started bringing up the condition of Ukraine's economy in his reasoning as well. It is questionable whether the current amendment will be able to ease tensions between Kyiv and Budapest.

The Hungarian Prime Minister is one of the very few EU leaders who has not been to Kyiv or had an official meeting with Zelensky since the Russian-Ukrainian war broke out in 2022. The Hungarian government's response to queries about this has recently been that Orbán will go to Kyiv "when it is reasonable".

This makes the video shared by the KyivPost all the more surprising, as it shows Zelensky and Orbán exchanging a few words in Argentina on Sunday.

The short, 20-second video was taken at the inauguration of Argentina's new president, Javier Milei, where the two politicians are seen talking to each other with agitated expressions, gesturing vehemently. Responding to our enquiry about the content of their conversation, the Prime Minister's Press Chief, Bertalan Havasi, said that Viktor Orbán had indicated to Zelensky that the EU member states were in constant discussion about Ukraine's accession to the EU.

In a video message on X (formerly Twitter), summarizing his trip to Argentina, Volodymyr Zelensky also commented on his discussion with Viktor Orbán and said “It was a highly straightforward conversation, focused on our European affairs”.

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