Unlocking of NATO-Ukraine Commission's work depends on agreements between Kyiv, Budapest – Stoltenberg
Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Jens Stoltenberg told Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin that unlocking the meetings of the Ukraine-NATO Commission depends on the agreements yet to be made by Ukraine and Hungary in the context of ensuring the language rights of the Hungarian minority in Zakarpattia region in the framework of the Ukrainian law on education, that's according to a report posted on Facebook by Ukraine's Mission to NATO.
On October 15, Klimkin met with Stoltenberg at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, the report says.
In particular, the parties exchanged views on the working mechanisms of a special partnership between Ukraine and NATO, in particular, meetings of the Ukraine-NATO Commission at the ministerial level. “According to the Secretary General’s estimates, the key to unblocking the Commission’s work lies in the plane of agreements between Ukraine and Hungary on ensuring the language rights of the Hungarian minority. An important step will be the full implementation of the recommendations of the Venice Commission on the implementation of the law of Ukraine on education,” the report says.
In turn, Klimkin noted that the goal of the Ukrainian state is to ensure equal rights for Zakarpattia residents, to create conditions for full development as citizens of Ukraine, to support their languages, traditions and culture.
As UNIAN reported, Hungary is blocking the holding of meetings of the Ukraine-NATO Commission, alleging a violation of the rights of Hungarians living in Ukraine, over the provision of the education law stipulating that the language of instruction in educational facilities be the state language (Ukrainian).
The new law on education, which came into force on September 28, 2017, introduces a 12-year secondary education in Ukraine, with the language of the educational process being the state language. The right of national minorities to study in their native language is realized through classes (groups) with the language of instruction being the language of the respective national minorities, along with the state language.
Language provisions of the law (Art. 7) caused concern in Poland, Romania, Hungary, Greece, and Bulgaria.
According to the conclusion of the Venice Commission, promulgated on December 8, 2017, the Ukrainian authorities are recommended to balance the position of the language article.
On February 14, 2018, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the draft law (No. 8046), which provides for the extension until 2023 of the transition period for the implementation of the language clause of the Law on Education.
Now this draft law is under consideration by parliamentary committees.
In March, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto demanded that Ukraine amend the law on education and postpone its implementation until 2023, otherwise Budapest will block meetings important for Ukraine at the level of the European Union and NATO.
Another escalation in relations between Kyiv and Budapest was provoked by the situation with the secret distribution of Hungarian passports to Ukrainians in Zakarpattia. On October 4, the Hungarian consul in the city of Berehove was declared persona non grata and demanded to leave the territory of Ukraine. In response, Hungary announced the expulsion of the Ukrainian consul in Budapest.