|AHF Statement on Ukraine Education Law|
01/18/2018 - AHF condemns refusal by Ukraine to amend its anti-minority education law. AHF is concerned that Article 7 of the new Ukrainian education law limits the right of sizable minorities living in Ukraine, including Hungarians, Poles and Romanians, to continue to be educated in their mother tongue beyond the fourth grade.
The statement appears in full below and available for [download]
THE AMERICAN HUNGARIAN FEDERATION CONDEMNS REFUSAL BY UKRAINE TO AMEND ITS ANTI-MINORITY EDUCATION LAW
The American Hungarian Federation (AHF), founded in 1906, represents a broad cross-section of Americans who trace their heritage to Hungary. Throughout its 110 year old existence, AHF has supported democracy, minority rights in Central and Eastern Europe, a strong NATO and an open door policy toward NATO enlargement to include countries which seek and qualify for membership.
AHF believes a cornerstone of U.S. security interests in a region that has not always been tolerant of its Hungarian (and other) minorities is the protection of minority language rights in accordance with Western standards and bilateral agreements.
AHF strongly supports sanctions against Russia to achieve the cessation of Russian aggression against Ukraine, restoration of Ukraine's border, the establishment of strong democratic values and institutions, and the integration of Ukraine into Western institutions and organizations. More broadly, AHF supports democracy and its indispensable elements: the rule of law, human rights, minority rights, freedom of the press and historical accuracy in the region.
With respect to minority rights in Ukraine, AHF is concerned that Article 7 of the new Ukrainian education law limits the right of sizable minorities living in Ukraine, including Hungarians, Poles and Romanians, to continue to be educated in their mother tongue beyond the fourth grade.
Zakarpattia Oblast, a province of Hungary that was lost to Czechoslovakia by the terms of the Peace Treaty of Trianon after WWI, was eventually annexed by Stalin to Ukraine SSR after WWII, leaving hundreds of thousands of Hungarians across the new border, and, along with them, a centuries-old Hungarian educational system.
The Ukrainian Parliament passed the controversial legislation on September 5, 2017 and the president signed it into law on September 25. The law is expected to affect at least 400,000 children studying in 735 state schools which offer instruction in minority languages.
On December 8, the Venice Commission, a group of constitutional lawyers who advise the Council of Europe, recommended that Ukraine amend the law, making it “more balanced.” The Ukrainian response was swift and uncompromising – Ukraine will not amend the disputed anti-minority law.
Not only does this law adversely affect minorities and conflict with instruments adopted by Ukraine, including the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages under the Council of Europe, it also unnecessarily harms Ukraine's heretofore good relations with Romania, Poland and Hungary, whose leaders have strongly objected to the new law. This development may impede Ukraine’s integration with the European Union.
AHF, therefore, urges the United States to call upon Ukraine to reconsider and amend this law and its implementation to ensure that the language rights of national minorities in Ukraine are fully protected, regional tensions dissipated and democracy advanced.
10/11/2017 - AHF meets with Ambassador Kurt Volker to discuss current issues of interest to members of AHF, including Ukraine's new language law that curtails the Hungarian community's right to study in their mother tongue.
AHF congratulated Ambassador Volker on his appointment as U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations. [read more]
09/13/2017 - AHF submits letter to US Secretary of State Tillerson regarding the inexplicable decision by Ukraine prohibiting Hungarian children of western Ukraine to study in their mother tongue (as well as in Ukrainian) beyond the 4th grade. That discriminatory law threatens the Hungarian minority’s culture and infringes on fundamental freedoms insofar as the survival of any national minority is to a large extent dependent on its ability to preserve and cultivate its culture, especially its language. [read more]
2/28/2014 - AHF Releases Statement in Connection with Recent Events in Ukraine calling attention to the plight of the Hungarian minority in Transcarpathia Ukraine. AHF urges the transitional government in Ukraine to fulfill the spirit of democracy as government for the people, by the people, and respect pluralism, the rule of law, and the rights of the Hungarian minority, including their democratically asserted right to autonomy. [read more]
3/10/2014 - Ukraine: AHF Releases another Statement on the Plight of the Hungarian Minority in Transcarpathia. "Minority rights is a dimension to the complexity of Ukraine and the region that perhaps isladen with less immediate strategic significance but one that calls out for immediate attention to dispel the fear of perpetual conflict and to promote a democratic Ukraine. What is too often overlooked relates to the treatment of national minorities generally and specifically to Ukraine’s close to 200,000 ethnic Hungarians who live in western Sub-Carpathia, an area which was part of Hungary." [read more]
2011 - Hungarian Minority Communities Targets of Intimidation, Incitement and Vandalism throughout Central Europe - Hungarian Human Rights Foundation [read more]
AHF's Tako Geza Award winner, Dr. Stephen Szilagyi, founded SARA, "Sharing America's Resources Abroad." SARA is a Christian ministry offering medical assistance to improve lives around the world. From humble beginnings, SARA has distributed millions of dollars in medical supplies, services, and medical care, establishing a network of doctors and suppliers ready to assist the needy, many in Transcarpathia Ukraine. [read more]
Healing a Most Painful Division... Although brother and sister have lived in the same village all their lives, Maria Ivan and her brother, Arpad, have been able to hug each other only twice in the past 53 years. As a result of a post-World War II treaty, a barbed wire fence marking borders has divided them.Szelmenc (called Solontsi in Ukrainian and Velke Slemence in Slovak) is found near where the Ukrainian, Slovakian and Hungarian borders meet. After WWII, the Soviets took this part along with half of the village for themselves. The other half was given to Czechslovakia. With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Soviet part became part of Ukraine. [read more]
Why so many Hungarians
Across the Border?
A thousand years of nation building successfully delineated groups based on culture, religion, geography, and other attributes to create the countries with which we are so familiar. While some Western European nations would continue power struggles and princely battles and civil wars, Hungary, founded in 896, was a peaceful multi-ethnic state for over a 1000 years and her borders were virtually unchanged.... Until 1920.
"The greatest catastrophe to have befallen Hungary since the battle of Mohacs in 1526," the Treaty of Trianon in 1920, was extremely harsh on Hungary and unjustifiably one-sided. The resulting "treaty" lost Hungary an unprecedented 2/3 of her territory, and 1/2 of her total population or 1/3 of her ethnic-Hungarian population. Add to this the loss of all her seaports, up to 90% of her vast natural resources, industry, railways, and other infrastructure. Millions of Hungarians saw borders arbitrarily redrawn around them, without plebiscites, ignoring President Wilson's lofty goal of national self-determination. The affects of this dictat are felt strongly today throughout the region. Two of the three newly created countries carved out of Hungarian territory no longer exist. "Slovakia" (Upper Hungary) split with the Czech Republic while "Yugoslavia" suffered from civil war and the ravages of ethnic cleansing. This should never have happened. Hungarian populations continue to decline significantly after forced removals such as the Benes Decrees and other pograms, and continued pressure and discriminative policies such as the 2009 Slovak Language Law, the Slovak Citizenship Act which is being used to strip Hungarians of their citizenship and status, and gerrymandering and other practices in Romania and Serbia.
The United States never ratified this treaty. At the time President Wilson said: “The proposal to dismember Hungary is absurd” and later Sir Winston Churchill said: “Ancient poets and theologians could not imagine such suffering, which Trianon brought to the innocent.” We are sad to report that they were right.
[read more] about the Treaty of Trianon
Hungarian populations declined significantly after forced removals such as the Benes Decrees and other pograms, the effects of WWI, and Trianon in 1920. With continued pressure and discriminative policies such as the 2009 Slovak Language Law, the Slovak Citizenship Law, discriminatory practices in Rumania and Serbia, this trend has continued over the past 90 years.
[read more] about the Treaty of Trianon
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