September 12th, 2017

Hungary turns to international organisations over Ukraine education law

The Hungarian government is to call on the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the UN and the EU Commissioner for neighbourhood policy and enlargement negotiations to act on the Ukrainian education bill curbing the right to minority language education, the foreign minister said. It is Hungary’s duty to protect all Hungarians, whether they live in the country or abroad, Péter Szijjártó said. In an amendment accepted last Tuesday, education in minority languages in Ukraine has been restricted to kindergartens and primary schools. Commenting on the changes, Szijjártó said earlier the amendment threatened the operations of a significant number of Hungarian schools in western Ukraine’s Transcarpathia region. He said the law was also in violation of Ukraine’s international commitments.

Meanwhile, Hungary’s parliamentary parties have called on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to send the bill back to parliament. Speaking to the press after five-party talks, Zsolt Németh, the head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, called the law “anti-European” and said it would violate basic human and minority rights if it came into effect. He added that the law could “further destabilise” Ukraine. Foreign ministry state secretary Levente Magyar welcomed the parliamentary parties’ joint opposition to the law and support “for Hungary’s national interests”. He said Hungary would not suspend, but rather step up, its humanitarian and development aid to Ukraine, arguing that “blind politics”, rather than the recipients of Hungarian aid, was to blame for the education law.

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  • wolfi

    Why don’t all those “Hungarians” move to Hungary?
    That would solve the problem of Hungary’s dwindling population maybe …

    • Illiberal Revolution

      They already are Hungarians living in Hungarian land. We will soon annex them.

      • Bowen

        Go on, then. The Ukrainians and Romanians will demolish you within minutes.

  • orbans_shirt

    Classic Hungarian meddling in affairs that are none of our concern. This whole controversty is clearly something between Ukrainian nationalists and the rest of Ukraine which is perfectly happy speaking Russian. Szijjarto needs to get back to the kids’ table where he belongs.

    • Illiberal Revolution

      You are not Hungarian you piece of szar.

      • wolfi

        Does Hungarian szar taste better in your opinion?
        You must be an expert on this surely …

    • pantanifan

      I think people should be educated in their own native language as far as possible and Ukraine is making a mistake here. Tolerance and acceptance of other languages is a strength, not a weakness.

      I also think Hungary is wrong to try and close down (or make things difficult for) the English-language university in Budapest, CEU.

      • wolfi

        I’m sure everybody is hysterically laughing their heads off at the Hungarian government which has been fighting against everybody else, all the international institutions e g.
        And now suddenly they are whining when another country turns against them …
        “Serves you right” must be in everybody’s mind.
        I remember the old saying:
        No tolerance for the enemies of tolerance!

        • pantanifan

          What about the other old saying: “two wrongs don’t make a right”?

      • Bowen

        You could also argue that teaching young Ukrainian-Hungarians exclusively in Hungarian is a disservice to them, and renders them unable to find careers later, as long as they remain in Ukraine. Szijjártó seems to be implying that Hungarian is being banned, which is not the case.

        • pantanifan

          You could argue that, but then maybe the English-language schools in Hungary should be closed down for the same reason? I think the question here is who decides which language children should be taught in?
          p.s. I don’t really care much about what young Mr. Szijjártó says…

          • Bowen

            I don’t think there’s an equivalence. There isn’t an ‘ethnic-English’ minority living historically in a particular region of Hungary. And even if they were, it would be difficult to argue that English-language skills are not useful, even in Hungary.

          • pantanifan

            Your points are well made, but what about the question of who decides which language children should be taught in? Do you think politicians currently sitting in Kiev know better than the parents of ethnic Hungarian children in “Kárpátalja” what will serve the kids better in the long-term?

          • Bowen

            To be honest, I don’t know the region. Is there a choice of schools that parents can send their children to? In which case, there should continue to be the option of at least bilingual education.

            But as far as I understand the new law, children can still get Hungarian-language education up to a certain age. And later, of course, they can study at a Hungarian higher-education institute in Hungary, if they wish.

            But personally speaking, I think that any parent who decides to give their child an exclusively Hungarian-language education, while living in the Ukraine, is harming their child’s future.

          • pantanifan

            From what I understand, secondary education in Hungarian will no longer be an option under this new legislation. If it’s anything like Transylvania, kids would still learn the local language anyway (in this case Ukrainian) and will generally be better at learning foreign languages than their counterparts in Hungary.
            I don’t know if you’re a parent, but if you are I guess you would prefer to have a choice about which language your child(-ren) is/are educated in if possible?

          • wolfi

            Come on!
            Less than 1% of Ukrainians speak Hungarian (if I inetrpret the numbers correctly …) and some people want their children to have school in Hungarian only?
            This is a kind of death sentence to their education and career imho.
            On HS I read that there are older Hungarians in Ukraine who only know Hungarian and Russian – pretty strange and not very helpful.

          • Bowen

            Sure it’s best if children have a choice. But a bilingual education is far, far preferable to a monolingual one (which is what Hungarian kids currently have in Ukraine).

          • pantanifan

            “Szijjártó said earlier the amendment threatened the operations of a
            significant number of Hungarian schools in western Ukraine’s
            Transcarpathia region”

            if this is true (a dangerous assumption!) and Hungarian schools close, the kids will presumably have a monolingual (Ukrainian) education instead.

            “Foreign ministry state secretary Levente Magyar welcomed the
            parliamentary parties’ joint opposition to the law and support for
            Hungary’s national interests”.

            If all the Hungarian Opposition parties are opposed to the law as well, it’s probably not a good move as far as Hungarians are concerned?

          • wolfi

            Just a reminder:
            Fidesz started all this fracas by allowing/forcing Hungarian citizenship to many Ukrainians though they surely knew that Ukrainian law (like Austrin law btw) does not allow this …

            So now many Ukrainians are in danger – if the authorities find out, they can take away their Ukrainian citizenship (maybe even throw them out to Hungary?) – how clever was this?
            One thing Fidesz is really good at:
            Making all of Hungary’s neighbours into enemies!
            And then of course the complaining and whining starts …

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