Hungarian Foreign Ministry Relays Hopes for Amendment to Ukraine's Education Law

Hungary, which has a big diaspora of ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine, criticized the law as violating the rights of ethnic minorities.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin is very surprised by the statements of Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto about the need to revise the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement because of the educational law and plans to discuss this issue during his visit to Budapest.

The new law restructures Ukraine's education system and specifies that Ukrainian will be the main language used in schools, rolling back the option for lessons to be taught in other languages.

Mr Szijjarto's comments came after he met with Hungarians in the region.

"Next Monday at a meeting of foreign ministers in Luxembourg I will propose that the association agreement be reviewed", he added.

Peter Szijjarto said that increasing worldwide pressure is the only way to get Ukraine to change the law, affecting some 150,000 ethnic Hungarians and other minorities, including Russians, Romanians and Moldovans.

Ukraine passed a law on September 5 obliging teachers to use only Ukrainian in secondary schools, saying it wanted to help minorities integrate and get public sector jobs.

"The issue of language, of education for the Hungarian community, is of principal importance for us; this explains Hungary's reaction to Ukraine's Law on Education", the diplomat explained. Ukraine's educational law has been criticized not only by Hungary but also by Moldova, Romania and Russian Federation, which also have ethnic and linguistic diasporas in the country.

Previously Hungary had backed Ukraine's push for closer ties with the European Union, including a deal on visa-free travel for Ukrainians to the Schengen zone, which covers most of Europe.

The Ukrainian education law is still attracting harsh criticism. Hungary's Minister for Foreign Affairs opposes the country's new Ukrainian language mandates for secondary and post-secondary education classes.

"We are confident that the provisions of this law do not violate national or global law, nor our worldwide obligations", said Ukraine's ambassador to Hungary, Lubov Nepop.

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