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Ukrainian new educational law: towards the end of Ukraine’s European integration?

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Ukraine – Early September, the Ukrainian parliament passed a reform of the education system, imposing Ukrainian as the compulsory secondary school language. Many countries oppose this reform, while Hungary appeals to the European Union and threatens to block Ukraine’s rapprochement with the EU.

Early September, the Rada – the Ukrainian parliament – passed a reform of education. From now on, the only language of secondary education will be the Ukrainian. This is therefore the end of teaching in the languages ​​of recognized minorities, such as Russian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Polish or even Greek.

Following the vote of this law, representatives of countries linked to concerned national minorities in Ukraine expressed altogether their unfavorable opinion regarding the reform. Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman then promised that his country would await the Venice Commission’s opinion before ratifying the law. But despite this, President Poroshenko signed the law before any further outside opinion… apart from the positive one from the United States of America.

As a result, 37 MEPs – from Bulgaria, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary – together called in an open letter the President’s attention to the fact that this law violates several international agreements, in particular Article 8 of the European Charter of regional or minority languages, as well as Articles 13 and 14 of the Framework Convention for the protection of national minorities.

Russia, but also Romania and Hungary, which have their own parallel school system in Ukraine, have labelled this law as discriminating for their respective minorities.

Hungary has reacted in the most virulent way. Considering itself to be betrayed, “stabbed by a knife in the back”, after supporting the visa-free regime for Ukraine or sending aid to areas hit by civil war, Hungary, through its Minister Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó described as shameful and scandalous these moves contrary to the spirit of the European Union, of which Ukraine wants to become a member.

The Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs announced that Hungary would henceforth block Ukraine’s progress on European integration in the framework of the Eastern Partnership of the EU. Hungary is also planning to veto any further aid to Ukraine from the European Union for now on. A meeting will be held on Thursday, October 12, between Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin and his Hungarian counterpart to discuss the issue.