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Hungary vetoed the NATO-Ukraine council due to the discriminatory Ukrainian educational law

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Hungary / Ukraine – Hungary vetoed the convening of the next NATO-Ukraine summit. This follows a disagreement between Hungary and Ukraine over the recent education reform that, according to Budapest, threatens the Hungarian community in Ukraine.

In early September, Ukraine voted a reform of education. For the Hungarian Government, this reform seriously undermines – in particular – the rights of the Hungarian minority in Ukraine. Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said that because of this “stabing in the back”, Hungary would no longer support Ukraine on the international scene as long as long as a change regarding the Hungarian minority would not take place. The Hungarian minister stresses that until the vote of this reform, Hungary was nevertheless the biggest support of Ukraine for its integration, including by supporting the visa-free regime for Ukrainian citizens.

The Hungarian minister’s threat to Ukraine was held: Friday, October 27, Hungary vetoed the convening of the NATO-Ukraine summit scheduled for December. According to the Hungarian Ministry, Ukraine is not only deviating from international agreements, but also from NATO’s integration program which aims to enforce the rights of minorities.

The Foreign Ministers of Hungary and Ukraine met in Budapest on October 12 to discuss the issue, but no compromise was found. However, according to the Russian news agency TASS, the spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation stated that “infamous law on education that has been condemned in the world as discriminatory will be amended with new provisions on preferences to the Hungarian language and other European Union languages”. This suggests that an agreement regarding minorities linked to countries that could support Ukraine’s integration into the Euro-Atlantic bloc would be under discussion; in this case, the position of Hungary vis-à-vis Ukraine could return to normal – as before September 2017 – according to commentators of the Hungarian press.

For the Hungarian Foreign Minister, this law on education drastically reduces the rights of minorities – including the 150,000 Hungarians. For the Ukrainian authorities, this reform will allow all Ukrainian citizens to master the official language of the country. However, in Hungary, it is pointed out that the Hungarian teachers’ corps of Subcarpathia / Transcarpathia has been reporting this problem for more than 10 years, and offers its help to find solutions. “If they wish to strengthen the teaching of the Ukrainian language, then they must reorganize the teaching of the Ukrainian language, not remove the right of minorities to education in their mother tongue,” said Péter Szijjártó.