Why Hungary aggravates language problem with Ukraine?

Author : Andrey Kokotiukha

Source :

Hungarian nationalists want to return Transcarpathia, and Russia can perfectly use this moment
19:27, 13 September 2017

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Ukraine has lost Hungary as its ally in the UN and the EU. Formally - because of the new law on education, adopted by the Verkhovna Rada on September 5. The paragraph on the language of education has become a cornerstone for the patriotic Ukrainian segment of Facebook. And on the eve, on September 5 – the day of an epoch-making vote – a lot of critical posts appeared in social networks. Numerous "experts" in chorus and one by one assured: evil politicians will not allow the Ukrainian language to become the only language of education in Ukraine. That MPs are already trying to negotiate on this behind closed doors.

Nevertheless, the parliamentarians went to the victorious format. The only language of education in Ukraine henceforth will be Ukrainian. With the caveat: in the junior school there will be an opportunity to teach also in the languages of national minorities with the obligatory study of Ukrainian. Of course, this outraged Russia. And quite unexpectedly - Hungary.

"Changes in the Ukrainian law on education make it impossible to receive education in their native language for national minorities of Ukraine, including 150 thousand Hungarian minority," Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Siyarto said. As a response to his personal instructions, Hungarian diplomacy will prevent Ukraine from realizing important international affairs. I would like to stress that Hungary has supported the introduction of visa-free travel for Ukraine, was one of the first to ratify the association agreement between the EU and Ukraine and has helped us in other ways. Now it turns out that at the price of such comprehensive support was the right of ethnic Hungarians, the vast majority of whom live compactly in Transcarpathia, to receive education in their native language.

Even uninitiated citizens are able to understand two basic things on which the new law on education is based. The first and main thing at the moment: whether we like it or not, but the declared total Ukrainization of the secondary and higher schools is primarily a response to its Russification. However, there is a second, no less important reason: the knowledge obtained in school will somehow have to be used. And then the mentioned 150 thousand Hungarians should make the decision. And the leadership of their historical homeland should give a clear answer, where they see the future of Ukrainian Hungarians.

Hungarian is not common in Ukraine in the same way as Russian is. Like other foreign languages, Hungarian does not dominate in the information space. The same can be said about the civil service and other spheres where citizens can and must realize themselves after graduation. If an ethnic Hungarian sees his future only within his community, it is unlikely that the law will prohibit the opening of Hungarian schools in places of compact settlement of Hungarians. Situation with higher education is more difficult: you have to go to study in Budapest and stay there to work. Otherwise, without speaking Ukrainian and adopting Ukrainian meanings, there is no job in Ukraine for you.

Undoubtedly, the Hungarian authorities understand this perfectly. And let's not forget: it was Hungary that until now, and without the language issue, was Ukraine's least reliable ally. The leadership of this state has repeatedly curtsied in the direction of the Kremlin. Not to mention the frankly pro-Russian far-right "Jobbik" party, which is very popular in certain Hungarian communities. Therefore, there is every reason to believe that Russia, having a huge experience of speculation and sowing discord in language issues, could use the moment. The moment that Hungarian nationalists used to go to international politics, seeking an excuse to return Transcarpathia. But even in such situation, all the same, further legislative initiatives in Ukraine should be introduced, without taking into account the reaction of Russia and its situational allies.

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