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Dec 08, 2017

Hungary's FM: OSCE should deploy observers to Ukraine’s Transcarpathia region

Péter Szijjártó, minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said that Hungary was concerned about Ukraine’s new education law, which curbs the rights of ethnic minorities to education in their mother tongue

Hungary’s foreign minister has proposed that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) should deploy observers to Ukraine’s Transcarpathia region.

Péter Szijjártó, minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said that Hungary was concerned about Ukraine’s new education law, which curbs the rights of ethnic minorities to education in their mother tongue.

During his speech delivered at the plenary meeting of the Ministerial Council of the OSCE in Vienna, the minister highlighted that Hungary greatly appreciates the work done by the organization’s observers in Ukraine. He pointed out that the organization’s border monitoring mission operating on the Russian side of the Russian-Ukrainian border is led by a Hungarian diplomat.

He said that the education legislation passed in September which significantly curtails the rights of minorities to study in their mother tongues was a source of "great disappointment". He said the law is utterly incompatible with Ukraine’s bilateral and international obligations, and they must therefore restore the rights of national minorities.

The minister pointed out that Hungary is concerned about the situation in Transcarpathia where some 150,000 Hungarians live. Therefore, Hungary is initiating the installation of long-term OSCE observers in the region which cannot come up against any obstacle in light of the fact that the mission’s mandate extends to the entire territory of the country.

"Transcarpathia is a multi-ethnic territory, and the new education legislation does not promote peaceful cohabitation in the region," he said.

On a different matter, the minister said that the 800 million euros Hungary has spent on border protection makes it Germany’s “most loyal European country”.

Minister Szijjártó made the remarks in response to German Social Democrat (SPD) leader Martin Schulz, who said “Hungary is getting further and further away from the EU”.

He added that if Hungary had not invested in border protection, “many more than 1.5 million migrants” would have come to Europe and “the vast majority would certainly have ended up in Germany”. He added the Hungarian government had spent that sum on the border rather than on the economy, “saving Germany from further burdens”.