BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) – Ukraine has pledged not to close Romanian language schools under a new education law that has caused alarm in Romania, Russia and Hungary, Romania’s foreign minister said Friday.
Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu said Ukraine had promised: “no Romanian school will be closed … and no teachers in a Romanian school will be fired.”
Melescanu said students would be educated in their native tongue and also learn Ukrainian language, literature, history and geography.
Ukraine’s new education law, which was passed last month, specifies that Ukrainian will be the main language used in schools, rolling back an option for lessons to be taught in other languages.
Russia, Hungary and Moldova, which all have minority communities in Ukraine, have also expressed concerns about the new language law. Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Thursday that Hungary would withhold its support for Ukraine’s further integration with the European Union as long the law remains unchanged.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin on Friday insisted that Ukraine wasn’t discriminating against ethnic minorities but giving them more language skills so they are competitive on the labor market.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis canceled a visit to Ukraine this month to protest the new law. There are an estimated 150,000 ethnic Romanians in Ukraine.
“This law is about people, it’s not about politics,” said Klimkin. “We need in the best possible way to develop our common approach.”