At a press conference marking European Languages Day held in Budapest on Tuesday, Parliamentary State Secretary for European Union Affairs Barna Pál Zsigmond urged Ukraine to adhere to European norms, the recommendations from the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission, and to reinstate legal frameworks that protect the Hungarian language and the Hungarian national community.
Zsigmond emphasized more than 700 million European citizens in forty-six countries are celebrating European Languages Day, a day that draws attention to one of the continent’s defining values: linguistic diversity.
He further stated that the Hungarian government places great importance on preserving the mother tongue and, in addition to safeguarding the Hungarian language, ensures the free use of the languages of national communities and minorities living in the country. Barna Pál Zsigmond reminded that the celebration of the day is overshadowed by the fact that Hungarians living beyond the Hungarian borders in the Carpathian Basin
must fight daily for the use of their mother tongue.
In relation to the elections to be held in Slovakia this Saturday, on 30 September, Barna Pál Zsigmond underscored the importance of having as many Hungarians as possible participate in this crucial vote. This election is not only about politics but also about ensuring additional guarantees for the use of the Hungarian language, he reminded, adding that if enough Hungarians participate in the election and the Hungarian party gains seats in the Slovak Parliament, new opportunities will open up for using the Hungarian language.
He expressed his concern about the situation in Ukraine, where it is evident that the use of the Hungarian language is being continuously restricted, even in the shadow of the terrible war. This is evident in changes made to the education and language laws, he remarked. Barna Pál Zsigmond expressed the hope that Ukraine will eventually return to the path it followed before and
will restore the rights of the Hungarian community,
allowing the Hungarian language to be used freely in education, culture, and public life.
Ukraine has indicated that it wants to become a member of the European Union, and it has also received candidate status. However, a prerequisite for this is respecting the rights of national minorities, Barna Pál Zsigmond declared. He added that it is particularly disturbing that while Hungary is engaged in the largest humanitarian action in its history to help Ukrainian citizens, such an unprecedented attack against the Hungarian language is taking place.
Barna Pál Zsigmond called it
incomprehensible that the 150,000-strong Hungarian minority has become a target
while the ethnically Hungarian citizens of Carpathian Ruthenia are fighting alongside Ukrainians against the Russians on the Russian-Ukrainian front.
European Languages Day also serves as an encouragement to the 700 million inhabitants of the Council of Europe’s 46 member states to learn other European languages beside their mother tongue. The special day was introduced by the Council of Europe in 2001 to draw attention to the importance of language learning, linguistic diversity, preserving cultural heritage, and the need to support for multilingualism throughout Europe.
Sources: Hungarian Conservative/MTI