Hungary steps up pressure on Ukraine over new education law

By The Associated Press

Hungary will ask the European Union to revise its association agreement with Ukraine, claiming the country’s new language law limits the rights of minorities, the Hungarian foreign minister said Tuesday.

Peter Szijjarto said that increasing international 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.

Szijjarto said Ukraine’s passage of the education law just days after the association agreement came into force on Sept. 1 was a “stab in the back,” adding that, as long as the education law remains in effect in its current form, Hungary would block any efforts by Ukraine for tighter integration with the EU.

“The fate of Hungarians living outside Hungary is not negotiable,” Szijjarto said. “Ukraine must repeal the provisions of its education law which harm minorities.”

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. Ukraine says it strengthens Ukrainian language education while also protecting minority rights.

Szijjarto, who met with Hungarian minority leaders and local authorities in western Ukraine on Monday, said the new law creates worse conditions for minorities in education than during the Soviet era.

Szijjarto said he would discuss the matter when Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin visits Budapest on Thursday and that he would make his proposal about revising the association agreement next week at a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

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