Hungarian American Coalition Calls Upon Vice President Al Gore to Raise Threatened Hungarian Language Instruction During Trip to Ukraine

(Washington, DC). In a letter submitted to Vice President Al Gore on the eve of his trip to Ukraine, the Hungarian American Coalition called upon the Vice President to raise the threatened curtailment of Hungarian language instruction with his Ukrainian hosts. The letter referred to the Ministry of Education’s “conceptual principles of meeting the education needs of national minorities in Ukraine,” in which the Ministry identifies its goal of promoting “a Ukrainian national mentality.” As the letter notes, “members of Ukraine’s ethnic Hungarian minority [comprising 12.5% of the population of Sub-Carpathia] justifiably fear that the proposal will result in the elimination or substantial curtailment of the already limited Hungarian language instruction that is available to that minority.”

The Coalition requested the Vice President to urge Ukrainian officials to refrain from implementing such “ill-advised policies” which would “violate the fundamental human and minority rights of ethnic Hungarians, transgress European norms regarding education opportunities that are to be provided such historical communities and slow Ukraine’s integration with the West.” These developments, added the letter, would not advance U.S. interests of promoting democracy and stability in the region.

Coalition president Edit Lauer also suggested that Vice President Gore meet with Miklos Kovacs, the only ethnic Hungarian member of Ukraine’s Parliament.

“Considering that Hungary was among the first to recognize Ukraine’s borders when it secured its independence, we are disappointed that Kiev would even consider depriving the Hungarian minority of its right to be educated in the Hungarian language,” noted Frank Koszorus, Jr., who submitted the Coalition’s letter. “We hope that Vice President Gore will convince Ukraine to abandon any anti-democratic and anti-minority policies. The tragic consequences of ethnic intolerance in the region are too obvious to ignore,” he added.

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