Hungary’s minority rights demand included in NATO-Ukraine declaration

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Hungary has scored a diplomatic victory after a joint NATO-Ukraine statement was amended to include a reference to minority rights of ethnic Hungarians.

The two-page document mainly deals with the Russian annexation of Crimea, but in point seven it also includes the following sentence:

“With regard to the Law on Education adopted by the Verkhovna Rada in September 2017, allies urge Ukraine to fully implement the recommendations and conclusions of the Venice Commission. Ukraine is committed to doing so.”

Hungary has clashed with Ukraine over what it says are curbs on the rights of roughly 150,000 ethnic Hungarians to use their native tongue, especially in education, after Ukraine passed a law in 2017 restricting the use of minority languages in schools

The language law prompted a European Union inquiry, which led to a report and recommendations from the Venice Commission, an advisory academic body for EU rights.

“Regarding the protection of the rights of national minorities, we assured allies that Ukraine is complying with all the recommendations of the Venice Commission on its education law,” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said at a joint briefing held with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Kiev.

With regard to the core issue, the statement said, “We strongly condemn and will not recognize Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea. Crimea is the territory of Ukraine. We call on Russia to return control of Crimea to Ukraine … There can be no ‘business as usual’ until there is a clear, constructive change in Russia’s actions that demonstrates compliance with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities.”

Title image: Ukrainian and NATO flag (source:

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