Hungary, Ukraine Clash Over Kyiv's New Language Law

Hungary said on Tuesday it would ask the European Union to review its ties with Ukraine over Kiev's decision to stop secondary school instruction in ethnic minority tongues including Hungarian.

The move triggered protests in neighboring Russian Federation and Hungary - a region where nationalism is historically deep-seated and language and ethnic identity have been highly sensitive subjects prone to escalating into conflict.

At a joint news conference with Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin following talks, Szijjarto said Budapest was also anxious about two other bills about citizenship and language now in the Kiev parliament.

Visiting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin (L) shakes hands with Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto during their meeting in Budapest, Hungary, on October 12, 2017.

"We see the situation in a totally different light".

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"Hungary does not want debates and struggles with Ukraine, but demands that Hungarian minorities in Transcarpathia enjoy the same rights as before the adoption of the law", he said. "We will not back down one inch". Differences remain between the Hungarian and Ukrainian standpoints concerning the recently adopted Ukrainian education law, but parties welcomed the continuous dialogue, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto said here Thursday.

Early this week, Szijjarto asked for the opinion of Transcarpathian Hungarians and, according to their assessment, the previous broader-based mother tongue education rights were being disrupted by the new law.

However, he said "not a single school" would be closed or "a single teacher" dismissed because of the new language requirement.

Klimkin said that every citizen should speak Ukrainian in addition to his native language.

He repeated that the policy of Hungary's cross-border policy was determined by the position of the Hungarian communities living beyond the borders.

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"Giving out Hungarian passports to Hungarian Ukrainians, that is no way to promote integration", he said.

The two leaders ended the news conference in agreement to disagree.

Kyiv's legislation has also ruffled feathers in Romania.

"Everyone needs the opportunity to fulfill themselves in their country of citizenship", Klimkin said.

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