Hungary Reacts to Discriminatory Ukrainian Education Law

2017. szeptember 11., hétfő

Ukraine has recently enacted a new piece of education legislation which will make it impossible for Hungarian minorities to receive schooling in their mother-tongue. KRISZ, the Youth Organization of the Reformed Church in Transcarpathia, recently released a statement on the new law, saying that it, “contradicts European democratic principles.”

The Presidium of the Youth Organization of the Reformed Church in Transcarpathia issued a statement regarding the recently adopted law on education in Ukraine. The amendments to the law on education, adopted on 5th September, would violate the rights of the Hungarian minority living in the area. The Reformed Youth Organisation of Transcarpatia (KRISZ) fears that restricting the right to education in their mother-tongue will generate a massive emigration of the young generation of the Hungarian minority in Ukraine. This would impact not only the 150,000 strong Hungarian minority, but also badly affect the economic, cultural and religious development of the whole region.  

“KRISZ noticed with consternation and was shocked about the decision of the Ukrainian Parliament adopting a law on education which restricts the basic rights of minorities of the country regarding the use of their mother-tongue, including Hungarians, and contradicts European democratic principles,” says the organisation’s statement.

They add that, "In joining other Hungarian organisations in Transcarpathia, we urge the President of Ukraine not to approve this law which is contrary to European principles, is unconstitutional, and deeply offends national minorities of the country, depriving them of their rights.” Instead, the Presidium of KRISZ suggests the elaboration of a method by which minorities can learn Ukrainian as a foreign language more effectively.

KRISZ (Reformed Youth Organisation of Transcarpatia) was established on the 14th of February in 2002. The organisation is a community of people glad to work with youth and who want them to know about their God and His saving grace. They are also ready to put these objectives into action because everybody, according to their own means, serves the Lord in their own way. The main task of KRISZ is missionary service among young people. Some young men and “not too young men” working with youngsters in the Transcarpathian Reformed Church District united with one mutual aim, to make the service among the younger generation more accurate and organized. KRISZ is the result of their efforts.

The Ukrainian Parliament adopted the Education Act, which, after a transitional period of three years, would take from the national minorities the right to mother-tongue education. High school and higher education will be provided only in Ukrainian language, and education in a minority’s mother-tongue would only be admitted in kindergartens and elementary schools run by local political governments. It is widely discussed in Hungary among political parties, churches, and public actors that it is unacceptable that Ukraine has deprived Hungarians of the right to study in their native language in schools and universities and has left them the opportunity to do so only in kindergartens and primary schools.

"Ukraine stabbed Hungary in the back, making amendments to the law on education, which violates the rights of the Hungarian minority," Foreign Minister and Trade Minister Peter Szijjarto told Hungarian news agency MTI. “For Ukraine, ignoring international obligations also contradicts European values. Accordingly, the Hungarian government will step up its efforts at all possible European forums, so that the new rules don’t come into force," the minister added.

Edited by Kearstin Bailey

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