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Nemeth: ‘Taking linguistic self-defence out of Putin’s hands’ up to Ukraine

Hungary firmly condemns Russia's military aggression against Ukraine, but unless the country "takes the weapon of linguistic self-defence out of the Russian president's hands", he will get to hold on to that "nuclear option", the head of parliament's foreign affairs committee said on Friday.
19. January 2024 16:20

Showing generosity to minorities regarding the use of their mother tongue could give Ukraine “a real European future”, Zsolt Nemeth said at the presentation of a book on the survival of the country’s Transcarpathian Hungarian community. Noting the coming talks between Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, he said such an approach would benefit not just Transcarpathian Hungarians but all people of Ukraine.

Nemeth said the recent amendments to Ukraine’s minority law were “a good start, but it needs to go farther”. He added that the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe, the European Union and the bilateral talks held so far made it clear that Ukraine must restore the state of affairs that pertained in 2014.

He said the current law did not guarantee cultural autonomy, collective rights, parliamentary representation or the possibility of using the mother tongue as an official language. Moreover, he added, the law did not ensure the legal institution of national minority education, the use of minority languages for place names or the free use of symbols.

He noted that the CoE Monitoring Committee was set to debate whether Ukraine’s amendment of its minority law is enough to meet the country’s international obligations.

Ukraine could make the most progress in becoming “a real European country” by ensuring linguistic and cultural equality for minorities, Nemeth said.

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