OREANDA-NEWS According to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó, it isn’t the Ukrainian Government’s place to decide what is good for Transcarpathia Hungarians.

Speaking on Hungarian M1 television’s Thursday evening current affairs program, Mr. Szijjártó said with relation to Ukraine’s Education Act: “The Ukrainian Government may be justifying the legislative amendment with the fact that every citizen should gain a better command of the Ukrainian language, because it will help them get ahead to a better extent, but there may be Transylvanian Hungarians who would like to live out their lives in a Hungarian environment and only learn Ukrainian up to a certain level”.

“It isn’t the Ukrainian Government’s place to decide what is good for Transcarpathia Hungarians”, he declared.

With relation to the fact that the new legislation states that the main language for teaching in all Ukrainian schools will be Ukrainian from the age of ten, Mr. Szijjártó said that if Hungarian children who grow up speaking Hungarian are forced to study their non-language subjects in Ukrainian from the 5th grade, they will suffer a double competitive disadvantage: they will not be able to study in their native language and will also understand their specialist subjects to a lesser extent than their Ukrainian peers.

The Hungarian Government is open to helping to develop a method that enables Hungarian children to study Ukrainian as a foreign language, he said, adding that in his opinion the current system is bad, and complaints with relation to this on the part of teachers in Transcarpathia have so far fallen on deaf ears.

According to Mr. Szijjártó, the negotiations launched on the Ukrainian Education Act can only be successful if the sections of the law that “grossly violate” the rights of the Hungarian minority are suspended by the time the negotiations begin. “The situation isn’t that Hungarians living in Ukraine have been given rights that are not sufficient, but that they have been stripped of one of their existing rights”, he stressed.

The Foreign Minister said that during his visit to Ungvár (Uzhhorod) on Monday he had met with the leaders of Hungarian organisations, who asked the government to “fight and not give an inch”. “This is exactly what the Hungarian Government will be doing”, Mr. Szijjártó stated.

He highlighted the fact that Ukraine’s road to European integration leads through Hungary, and the Hungarian Government will continue to block this process until Ukraine retracts the offending sections of the Education Act.

“International pressure on Ukraine must be continuously increased”, Mr. Szijjártó said, and accordingly on Monday he will be initiating the convening of the European Union’s Association Council and a review of Ukraine’s association agreement.