Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday signed into law a controversial language bill which has sparked a standoff with Romania and other east European states, AFP reported.
The law states that starting in September 2020, students will be taught exclusively in Ukrainian from the fifth grade onwards, though they can still learn their native languages as a separate subject. But Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has said the bill “drastically limits” the access of minorities to education in their native language, and cancelled a planned trip to Kiev this month. The legislation has also raised hackles in Ukraine’s sizable Hungarian and Polish minorities.
A statement issues by the presidency said Poroshenko “especially stressed that the law raises the role of Ukrainian as a state language in the education process.” “The law ensures equal opportunities for all,” it added.
The Hungarian government launched a serious diplomatic offensive against the law. “It is a shame that such kind of a legislation is being passed in the 21st century” in a country which is working hard to be integrated with the EU, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto said in the general debate of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly in New York last Friday. Previously, he instructed Hungarian diplomats working alongside UN bodies to block all initiatives launched by or important for Ukraine, he said.
In his latest radio interview last Friday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said it was clear in European culture that it was not usual to withdraw rights already granted to minorities. He said Ukraine would have to understand that this was no way to get closer to the EU. “We won’t allow it,” he said.
The Minister Heading the PM’s Office, Janos Lazar, at his press conference last Thursday described the legislation, „which crudely violates the rights of the Hungarian minority” as shameful and unacceptable, and asked Poroshenko not to sign the law, and to honour his undertaking to guarantee the right of the Hungarians in Transcarpathia to use their mother tongue. Hungary regards this law as a stab in the back, „in consequence, Ukraine is losing one of its friends”, the Minister said, reiterating that Hungary has expressed its support for the Ukrainian people on a number of occasions, including the issue of visa-free travel to the
Source: MTI, Kormany.hu, AFP, Hungary Journal