Government calls on Ukraine to stop curbing rights of Hungarian minority

Tamás Menczer also called on the European Union to put the issue on its agenda and “take meaningful steps” aimed at restoring the rights of Ukrainian Hungarians.

State Secretary Tamás Menczer said the Hungarian government is calling on the parliament, government, and president of Ukraine to “stop curbing the rights of the Hungarian minority” and restore the rights ethnic Hungarians earlier enjoyed.

Menczer also called on the European Union to put the issue on its agenda and “take meaningful steps” aimed at restoring the rights of Ukrainian Hungarians. Concerning Ukraine’s recent changing of its education, language, and minority laws, Menczer said the measures were “obviously well-designed and interconnected, fully in contravention with Ukraine’s bilateral and international agreements, and all European values”. Menczer said the education law deprived Hungarian students of the possibility of learning in Hungarian. Under the law, ethnic Hungarian children will have to learn in Ukrainian at least 20% of their classes from the fifth grade on, 40% from the ninth grade and 60% from the tenth grade, he said, adding that the minimum ratio could be increased by each school. He said the political aim of the law was that all students should learn to speak Ukrainian. “It will not be achieved, since a language can only be taught in language classes,” he said. He suggested that Ukraine’s goal was to suppress Hungarian education, “another step in the assimilation of Transcarpathian Hungarians”. He also insisted that, contrary to earlier reports, the application of the law had not been postponed by one year and it would take effect this September for the fifth and sixth grades.

Under the law, ethnic Hungarian schools will “cease to exist as such … they will become Ukrainian schools in which certain subjects will be taught in Hungarian,” Menczer said. On the subject of the language law, Menczer said it would restrict the use of the mother tongue “in other areas of life” , making it mandatory to speak Ukrainian “in public life, culture, the media, as well as in offices”. The Venice Commission has recently studied the two laws and established that they “go against European values and rules”, Menczer said. According to the CoE position, Ukraine could “only become a member of the EU if it completes its rules for ethnic minorities in line with the CoE’s recommendations”, Menczer said. The Hungarian government will not support Ukraine’s EU and NATO integration as long as that country continues curbing the rights of the ethnic Hungarian minority and refuses to reintroduce its earlier rights, he said. He noted the Hungarian government’s “serious conflicts” with Ukraine before the war over the ethnic minority’s rights, but “the Hungarian party was willing to set aside the issue when the war broke out, but it regrets to see that acts against Transcarpathian Hungarians and curbing their rights systematically goes on,” the state secretary said.