Hungary is set to raise the issue of the rights of ethnic minorities in Ukraine consistently and at various levels, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said.
"The principle says that no already existing rights should be taken from the minorities and in this regard the law on education, which was passed by the Ukrainian parliament is not only violating the bilateral agreements between Ukraine and Hungary, but also the multilateral agreements in the framework of EU, OSCE, Council of Europe and UN," the diplomat told TASS on the sidelines of the Arctic Frontiers conference in Norway’s Tromso.
"What we continuously will be doing is raising this issues on the agendas and the meetings of this multilateral organizations. In the meantime, we are ready for consultations with the Ukrainian government," he continued. "As it was said by the Venice commission, in its opinion the best way to overcome this issue in Ukraine will be to change the respective chapter of this law."
Szijjarto said that although his country was open for dialogue, "the ball is on the court of the Ukrainians."
In late September 2017, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko signed a new law on education, which stipulates that starting from 2018, teaching in the languages of minorities will be possible only in primary school, while education in secondary schools, colleges and universities will be provided only in Ukrainian.
Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece, Moldova, Poland, Russia and other countries voiced their concern over the law.
On October 12, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) pointed out that the law would become an obstacle preventing minorities from receiving education in their native language.
On December 8, the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe recommended that Kiev introduce changes in the law to avoid discriminating against minority languages.
Until recently, western Ukraine’s Transcarpathia region was home to about 150,000 ethnic Hungarians. However, according to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, their number has recently dropped to less than 100,000.