The Struggle for the Rights of Hungarians in Transcarpathia Continues

Translated by Ollie Richardson


The attempts of the government in Kiev to violently ukrainize the ethnic minorities of Ukraine encountered the resistance of the Hungarian community of Transcarpathia.

The special concern of the diaspora was caused by the bills introduced in the parliament of Ukraine about the restriction of the use of languages of ethnic minorities in the public sphere. Deputies of Beregovsky regional council of the VII convocation of the Transcarpathian region addressed the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko with the demand not to allow the acceptance by parliament of the bill limiting the rights of ethnic minorities.

“Narrowing language rights is in violation of Articles 10 and 53 of the Constitution of Ukraine, and also international obligations such as the Declaration on the principles of cooperation between the Republic of Hungary and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic,” it is said in the appeal of the Deputies.

Thus, according to elected officials the basis of contractual relations between Kiev and the Hungarian community will be broken.

“This project actually forces out the Hungarian language, for example, from elementary schools, which is inadmissible for the Beregovsky region, where 76% of inhabitants are Hungarians. A number of other initiatives will lead to the fact that the sphere of the use of Hungarian will be reduced to the point that it will remain only on paper,” stated the deputy of the Beregovsky regional council Fedor Dyulyu.

The opinion of Dyulyu was supported by the Deputy of the Transcarpathian regional council, the leader of the party of KMKS Iosif Borto, who stated: “We consider that Hungarians on the territory of Ukraine already have autonomy, just we don’t call it that. We have schools, kindergartens, and Universities. We can use the native language and the present law of Ukraine allows us these rights, which we want to have. But there are some political forces that violate the Constitution and the agreements that Ukraine signed, and, disregarding the interests of national minorities of Ukraine, want to narrow those rights that we have today”.

The reform of decentralization announced by Poroshenko in reality was not effective.

“Now local governments are as poor as church mice, that’s why they can’t fully develop. We in the regional council are obliged to take funds from the development fund and to allocate them for local governments of Beregovsky because there is no money even for wages. And because funds are still concentrated at the center and distributed from there, the local authorities are financially insolvent,” stated the Head of Beregovsky regional council Iosif Shin.

Otto Vash, the Deputy of the Beregovsky regional council of the IV convocation, supported his colleague and cited as an example the experience of native Hungary: “In this plan specific villages and regions lose out, because they don’t have anything to finance their expenditures with. In Hungary, for example, national minorities can create self-governance. In the city of Komló, for example, there is a Ukrainian community. And thus they can solve their problems: cultural, economic, and so on. Plus, they receive help from the State, they can develop their opportunities this way”.

It is worth noting that in the places of residence of the Hungarian community, Hungarian at the moment is the main language of communication. In Beregovsky street names, signs, and also announcements are printed in Hungarian. In addition, over office buildings and schools the Hungarian flag flies. And recently on the borders of districts of compact residence of ethnic Hungarians, memorial steles appeared, on which inhabitants and guests are welcomed in Hungarian. So, “informallly” the local community supported the words of the Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán about the fact that foreign Hungarians have the right for dual citizenship and autonomy.

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The head of the Democratic Union of the Hungarians of Ukraine Mikhail Tovt supports such efforts on upholding the rights of ethnic minorities, and considers that in recent years the situation with ensuring the rights of national minorities in Ukraine has worsened. “That’s why we need to assert our rights, our language, our monuments, and our national and cultural autonomy,” stated the head of the Hungarian community of Ukraine.

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