- 5 Nov 2019 8:19 AM
In the first such move by a leading NATO official, Secretary General Jan Stoltenberg told Mr Zelensky on Thursday last week that all NATO member countries stand behind the Hungarian demand to amend the recently adopted Public Education Act which makes teaching in Ukrainian mandatory after the 4 years of elementary school.
Hungary threatened to veto the NATO declaration on Ukraine last week, unless it included the recommendations of the Venice Committee, a body of legal experts set up by the Council of Europe.
In consequence, the NATO ambassadors’ text made explicit reference to those recommendations. President Zelensky told Mr Stoltenberg that his government has accepted 6 of the 7 recommendations, without specifying which ones will be submitted to the Verhovna Rada for approval.
The Venice Committee proposed amendments to the law which would in practice make it possible for schools to continue teaching in minority languages at Secondary School level.
On Mandiner, Attila Demko describes the unprecedented démarche by the Secretary General as a victory for Hungary’s persistent championing of the rights of the Hungarian minority in Ukraine.
He recalls that Hungary has consistently blocked rapprochement between NATO and Ukraine since the Education Act was passed two years ago. In a further move, the previous Ukrainian régime also passed a law making the use of Ukrainian mandatory in the public sphere.
NATO partners have so far been insensitive to Hungary’s demands and have often also criticized Hungary for bringing up bilateral issues in NATO. Hungary, Demko explains, was careful to support Ukraine on issues like the annexation of the Crimea by Russia as well as on the East-Ukrainian crisis but couldn’t let the Hungarians of the Transcarpathian region down.
He concludes by suggesting that a combination of flexible and firm attitudes is the only way to sensitize NATO partners to the complaints of national minorities.
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