Kiev has hoodwinked the rest of the world into believing it has addressed the concerns of Transcarpathian Hungarians, the FM says
Ukraine has no intention of resolving concerns about its treatment of Hungarians and other minorities living in its western province, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told reporters in a meeting broadcast on his Facebook page on Monday.
Instead, the government in Kiev has focused on duping the rest of the world into believing the minority rights issue is “resolved or almost resolved” – even as the situation for Hungarians living in the province of Transcarpathia “deteriorates” even further.
“I think it’s very cynical on the part of Ukrainians that, as can be clearly seen, they in no way want to resolve issues that are important to us, in no way want to return the rights taken away from Transcarpathian Hungarians,” Szijjarto said.
To illustrate the minority’s worsening plight, Szijjarto described a letter sent by the Ukrainian Ministry of Education instructing schools that the Ukrainian language “should be used as the state language not only during classes, but also during breaks between teachers and students,” even in schools where the majority of students – and teachers – are Hungarian.
Last month, Szijjarto demanded Ukraine repeal several laws seen as impinging on the rights of ethnic Hungarians, warning that Budapest would block Kiev’s efforts to join the EU so long as the discrimination continued.
Hungarian President Viktor Orban took things one step further, declaring Hungary would not support its neighbor “on any issue in international life until it restores the laws that guaranteed the rights of Transcarpathian Hungarians.”
Approximately 156,000 ethnic Hungarians living in Ukraine have seen their situation worsen dramatically since 2015, according to Szijjarto. The nation’s other ethnic minorities – including 150,000 Romanians and 250,000 Moldovans – have similarly suffered under a series of laws mandating the use of the Ukrainian language in official settings.
The legislation, which has come under fire from human rights groups and the Council of Europe, has led to the closing of some 100 Hungarian schools in Ukraine, leaving just 20% of the country’s Hungarian population receiving lessons in their own language.
The Council of Europe’s Venice Commission urged Ukraine to improve the recognition of its national minorities if it hopes to enter the EU in a report published earlier this year. Its proposed reforms include publishing official state documents in minority languages, delaying the introduction of Ukrainian as a principal language in schools, providing interpreter services at Ukrainian public events, and ditching Ukrainian-language content quotas for minority media outlets. Currently, just 10% of a media outlet’s content can be broadcast in the minority language.