Skip to content
Edit post

RFE/RL: Hungary again criticizes Ukraine's national minority policies in letter to EU

by Kateryna Hodunova and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 16, 2024 12:51 AM 3 min read
Hungary's parliament building in a photo on Dec. 13, 2021. Photo for illustrative purposes (Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images)
This audio is created with AI assistance

Support independent journalism in Ukraine. Join us in this fight.

Become a member Support us just once

Hungary has sent a document to the EU member states criticizing Ukraine's policies on national minorities, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on March 15, citing a Hungarian statement they had obtained.

Budapest has repeatedly accused Kyiv of discriminating against the Hungarian ethnic minority concentrated in southwestern Ukraine, an accusation that the Ukrainian leadership denies. Much of these disputes center around Ukraine's language laws that require at least 70% of education above fifth grade to be conducted in Ukrainian.

While Budapest has called this measure discriminatory toward the Hungarian minority, Kyiv retorted that it only aims to ensure that every Ukrainian citizen has sufficient knowledge of the official language.

Hungary has formulated an 11-point request to Ukraine regarding the rights of national minorities, which included the restoration of the status of a national school, the ability to take a high school diploma in Hungarian, and the ability to use Hungarian in public life.

In the document reviewed by RFE/RL, Budapest demanded the restoration of the rights its minority had before 2015, noting that the protection of national minorities' rights is one of the priorities mentioned in the negotiating framework for Ukraine's potential accession to the EU.

Apart from the language rights, Hungary also called for the possibility of political representation at the regional and national levels, according to the document.

There are active political parties in Ukraine advocating for the interests of the Hungarian minority, represented on the regional and municipal levels. The Party of Hungarians of Ukraine (KMKSZ), an ally of Hungary's ruling party Fidesz, holds seats in the Zakarpattia Oblast council.

Join our community
Support independent journalism in Ukraine. Join us in this fight.
Support us

"Despite previous promises, the needs of the Hungarian community representatives in Ukraine were ignored. For example, in the case of subjects determination that should be taught in Ukrainian in schools of the Hungarian minority," the statement reads, adding that 20,000 pupils are currently studying in Ukraine with Hungarian as the language of instruction.

Budapest alleged in the document that the mandatory 10% ratio that national minorities must reach among the local population to claim linguistic rights was "unjustified," as the population ratio in the region had changed after Ukraine’s administrative reforms.

Hungary also insisted on its own delegate in Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, RFE/RL reported.

Kyiv has not publicly responded to the document.

The news of Hungary’s document criticizing Ukraine's policies on national minorities was spread ahead of a bilateral meeting between the representatives of the Ukrainian and Hungarian governments. Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine's Presidential Office, announced it on March 14 without specifying the date.

The last face-to-face talks between Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, and Yermak were held in Uzhhorod, Zakarpattia Oblast, on Jan. 29.

Disputes over the minorities' rights have long complicated the relationship between Ukraine and Hungary, as Budapest has often used the issue to obstruct Kyiv's EU aspirations. The tensions escalated after the outbreak of the full-scale war, as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban took a distinctly amicable stance toward Russia, criticizing allied sanctions and aid for Ukraine.

Orban: Trump will stop funding Ukraine if elected
Echoing previous comments by the former president about his plans to negotiate peace in Ukraine within 24 hours, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that former U.S. President Donald Trump would end the supply of weapons from the U.S., a move that he said would mark the end of the war.

Support independent journalism in Ukraine. Join us in this fight.
Freedom can be costly. Both Ukraine and its journalists are paying a high price for their independence. Support independent journalism in its darkest hour. Support us for as little as $1, and it only takes a minute.
visa masterCard americanExpress

News Feed

11:10 PM

Decorated Ukrainian pilot killed in action.

Lieutenant Colonel Vasyliuk, the brigade’s chief of staff and a deputy commander of an aviation squadron, was killed “recently” while conducting a combat mission, the brigade said.
Ukraine Daily
News from Ukraine in your inbox
Ukraine news
Please, enter correct email address
7:12 PM

Zelensky: 'Our partners fear that Russia will lose this war'.

President Volodymyr Zelensky believes that Ukraine's partners "are afraid of Russia losing the war" and would like Kyiv "to win in such a way that Russia does not lose," Zelensky said in a meeting with journalists attended by the Kyiv Independent.
2:58 AM

Russia attacks 10 communities in Sumy Oblast.

Russian forces struck 10 communities in Ukraine's northeastern Sumy Oblast in 44 separate attacks throughout the day, the regional administration reported on May 17. At least 183 explosions were reported in Sumy Oblast over the past 24 hours.
MORE NEWS

Editors' Picks

Enter your email to subscribe
Please, enter correct email address
Subscribe
* indicates required
* indicates required
Subscribe
* indicates required
* indicates required
Subscribe
* indicates required

Subscribe

* indicates required
Subscribe
* indicates required

Subscribe

* indicates required
Subscribe
* indicates required

Subscribe

* indicates required
Successfuly subscribed
Thank you for signing up for this newsletter. We’ve sent you a confirmation email.