Szijjarto: Hungary demands legal guarantee from Kiev

Hungary wants a legal guarantee that the Ukrainian government will consult with its Hungarian minority and reach an agreement before implementing any changes to its education law, Hungary’s foreign minister said in Paris after meeting his Ukrainian counterpart and a US official on Wednesday.

In talks with Pavlo Klimkin and Wess Mitchell, US assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, Peter Szijjarto noted that Hungary had stated multiple times that the education law approved last September, restricting public education in minority languages to kindergarten and primary-school students, severely infringed on the acquired rights of the Hungarian community.

“Ukraine must not implement a law on education without reaching an agreement first with representatives of the local Hungarian community,” Szijjarto said, adding that the Hungarian government insisted on receiving the relevant legal guarantees from Kiev.

He said it would be wrong to present the issue purely as a Hungarian-Ukrainian conflict. “Ukraine has violated basic international standards on the protection of minorities,” the minister said, citing rules set down by the European Union, the Council of Europe, as well as the NATO action plan that Ukraine has pledged to implement.

Hungary stands foursquare behind the EU and CoE on the issue, and expects Ukraine to amend its public education law to comply with international law and the recommendations of the Venice Commission. Klimkin has pledged to start consultations with representatives of Ukraine’s ethnic minorities, Szijjarto said, but Hungary demands legal guarantees. “Without such guarantees, Hungary will not give up blocking all Ukrainian projects within NATO and the EU.”

Commenting on the US role in the talks, Szijjarto said the US wants to eliminate conflicts among allies in a geopolitically significant area. “This serves our purposes”, he said, adding that Hungary can only accept solutions favourable to Hungarian minorities.

Source and photo: MTI

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