Anti-minority educational law in Ukraine

2017. 09. 07.

Andrea Bocskor and the Fidesz-KDNP delegation in the European Parliament protest the anti-minority measures of the educational law passed September 5, 2017 in the Ukrainian Parliament and call on President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko to refuse to sign it.

The Supreme Council (Verhovna Rada) passed the educational law (no. 3491-d) on second reading. The 7th article of the act limits the right of ethnic minorities to access to education in their mother tongue. Specifically, the article would limit such access to education in kindergarten and primary schools only, making Ukrainian the sole language of secondary and higher education. The law – ignoring the country’s constitution and international commitments – strips ethnic minorities of their right to education in their mother tongue, which is a dramatic step backwards compared to recent (or even Soviet) legislation. Keeping in mind that at least 20% of Ukraine’s population is composed of ethnic minorities, it is essential that they respect the language and cultural rights of these communities for the sake of social harmony.

During the preparation of the educational law, EPP MEP Andrea Bocskor and the Fidesz-KDNP EP delegation repeatedly called the attention of the Ukrainian Ministry of Education to the fact that the new law would drastically limit the rights of ethnic minorities and requested legislators that they take a more European-like approach. Despite these efforts, the text of the adopted legislation violates not only the constitutional rights of ethnic minorities in Ukraine but also contradicts the country’s international obligations.

“The anti-minority measures of the educational reform are highly disappointing,” said Transcarpathian politician Andrea Bocskor, „because Ukraine had already pledged its commitment towards European integration several times. It is impossible to foster the learning of the state language with coercive methods. Appropriate means, motivation and good examples are the better approach. The forced integration of Ukrainian minorities is a sign of a policy of open assimilation. Adopting this legislation reflects Ukraine’s true standpoint on European integration, European values and the rule of law. Towards the EU, they send a negative message by stripping ethnic minorities of their constitutional rights, which are guaranteed by numerous international commitments, to use their mother tongue. It is outrageous that despite all the dialogue and consultations, they weren’t willing to listen to expert opinions saying that state language shouldn’t be forced on minorities at the expense of using the mother tongue but taught with more efficient educational methods and differentiated teaching material. I hope that leaders of the European Union will hear the cry for help of the Transcarpathian Hungarians and use their influence to prevent the law from coming into force.