16:11 26.09.2017

Hungary's reaction to Ukrainian law on education is blackmail – Ukrainian MP

Hungary's reaction to Ukrainian law on education is blackmail – Ukrainian MP

Ukraine is prepared to take symmetrical retaliatory steps if Budapest blocks any initiatives to build closer ties between Ukraine and the European Union, Volodymyr Ariev, the head of the Ukrainian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and a member of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc in parliament, said on Tuesday.

"We've interacted with them in a neighborly way. If they don't want to interact in a neighborly way, for instance, there are three times as many Ukrainian delegates to the Council of Europe as Hungarian ones, we can also influence a final decision on Hungary. If they resort to blackmail rather than calm negotiations, this is an unreliable partnership," Ariev said.

Hungary's intention to obstruct closer ties between the EU and Ukraine makes Hungary an unreliable partner for everyone, but Ukraine has several possible responses to Hungary's threats, Ariev said.

Moreover, growing nationalistic sentiments in Hungary have long worried the EU, which damages the country's image in that organization, he said.

"What Hungary is doing is blackmail, and we will therefore act symmetrically in response to Hungary, if they do that to us in this situation," he said.

Aryev also said to wait for the Venice Commission's conclusions regarding the language clauses of the education legislation. There is no point in holding debates at the Council of Europe, as Romania has insisted, before the Venice Commission issues its findings, he said.

As for Poland's reaction to the law, Ariev said, "I haven't heard of any problems they might have."

Earlier on Tuesday, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry posted a statement on its website saying that the Hungarian government would block any further decisions by the European Union to build closer ties with Ukraine after President Petro Poroshenko signed the new legislation on education.

It had been reported that on September 25, Poroshenko signed the law on education passed by the Verkhovna Rada on September 5.

The law stipulates that the language of education in Ukrainian educational institutions is the official language, Ukrainian; at the same time, it also says that depending on the curriculum, one or several disciplines could be taught in two or more languages, e.g., in Ukrainian and in English, or in other official languages of the European Union.

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