Index – Abroad – Zelensky capitulated, wanting to negotiate a language law affecting Hungarians
The Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine announced that Ukraine is ready to amend its laws on minority rights in order to reach an agreement with the European Union regarding the start of accession negotiations this year. Olga Stefanisyna, who runs Ukraine’s efforts to join the European Union, told the Financial Times that Kiev was ready to make “further adjustments” to the rules on secondary education for minorities, including Hungarian ones, if it created a balance with Ukrainian-language education.
The newspaper states that this issue has become the biggest obstacle to the start of European Union membership negotiations with Kiev. As they write this article, the bloc’s leaders have to decide whether to start negotiations in December. Meanwhile, they say, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has repeatedly threatened to veto the process over the issue of minority rights and accused Kiev of “Hungaryphobia.”
According to the newspaper, Ukrainian officials will begin bilateral talks with Hungary and Romania this week to try to reach an agreement on the balance between teaching the Ukrainian language and minority languages in secondary schools.
“We will amend the legislation on national minorities, and if necessary, we can introduce further amendments, but above all, negotiations are needed,” Sztefaniysina said. According to him, the current rules, which introduced more compulsory education of the Ukrainian language, are working well.
We’ve found a balance and it works. So we really have to appreciate that
According to Brussels and Kiev, Orban is not interested
According to the Financial Times, officials in Kiev and Brussels fear that “Orban, who is allied with Moscow, has no interest in finding a solution to the education issue and will use this as an excuse to prevent the start of accession talks in December.”
The paper also reminds us of the position of the Venice Commission, a constitutional advisory body of the Council of Europe, according to which Ukraine must protect the linguistic rights of Russian speakers.
Two out of seven
Stefanisina earlier expressed her confidence that the European Union would not delay the start of negotiations. According to the European Commission, Ukraine has fully met two of the seven criteria necessary to start negotiations: media freedom and judicial reform.
The results achieved in the other five projects – minority rights, anti-corruption reforms, anti-money laundering rules, laws against oligarchs and reform of the Constitutional Court – will be evaluated later in the fall.
As is known, dozens of minorities live in Ukraine, and one of the largest Hungarian minorities can be found in Transcarpathia, whose rights the Hungarian government has spoken out several times in defense of.
(Cover photo: Volodymyr Zelensky. Photo: Global Images Ukraine/Getty Images Hungary)