- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 27, 2021

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) - Hungary’s top diplomat visited Kyiv Wednesday to try and defuse a rift over the rights of Ukraine‘s Hungarian minority, which has clouded bilateral relations for years.

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto suggested that the two countries set up a working group to solve a dispute over Ukraine‘s education law approved in 2017, which effectively eliminated the use of Hungarian and other minority languages in schools after 4th grade

Hungary saw the law as discriminatory against the 120,000-strong ethnic Hungarian community in Transcarpathia, part of western Ukraine that once belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which disintegrated after World War I. Tensions also have arisen over the legality of the ethnic Hungarians acquiring Hungarian, as well as Ukrainian, citizenship.

Ukraine, which has faced a Russia-backed separatist insurgency in its east for nearly seven years, has argued that the education law was necessary to protect its language and culture.

Hungary says Ukraine‘s policies on ethnic minorities are overly restrictive, and has blocked talks on deepening ties between Ukraine and the European Union.

Szijjarto said after Wednesday’s talks that the two countries must move to reduce tensions and engage in talks to settle their differences. He added that he received promises regarding Hungarian classes at schools.

“There is no reason to think that the Ukrainian state wants to harm ethnic Hungarians in Transcarpathia,” said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

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