Hungary is asking Ukraine to observe European norms, recommendations of the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission, and restore “the legal framework” that protects the Hungarian language and Hungarian national communities in the country, an EU affairs ministry official said on Tuesday, marking the European Day of Languages. At a press conference held in the square in front of Parliament, state secretary Barna Pál Zsigmond noted that on September 26 more than 700 million European citizens celebrate in 46 countries the European Day of Languages which highlights the importance of the diversity of languages, a major asset on the continent. The protection of the Hungarian language is an important priority for the government, he said in Kossuth Square. Hungary guarantees the national and ethnic communities living in the country the right to use their mother tongue, the state secretary said, adding that “Hungarians living in the Carpathian Basin beyond the borders had to fight day by day for the right to use their language”. Zsigmond expressed concern over the situation in Ukraine where he said the use of the Hungarian language was constantly restricted under recent amendments to the education and language laws.
“We hope Ukraine will sooner or later return to its original path and restore the right of its ethnic Hungarian community to an unrestricted use of its mother tongue in education, culture and public life,” Zsigmond said, adding that a criteria for Ukraine aspiring to become an EU member state is to observe the rights of its national minorities. He said it was “incomprehensible as to why the community of 150,000 ethnic Hungarians became a target, when Transcarpathian Hungarians were also fighting against the Russians on the Russian-Ukrainian front”. “It is particularly disturbing that the Hungarian language has come under such an unprecedented attack while Hungary is helping the Ukrainian people with the largest ever humanitarian operation in its history,” said Zsigmond.
Launched jointly by the Council of Europe and the European Union, the European Day of Languages is observed on September 26 every year since 2001. It highlights linguistic diversity and promotes language learning and plurilingualism across Europe.