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A Very Different Tone: New Ukrainian Ambassador Praises Hungary for its Role

Hungary Today 2023.09.11.
The now famous image of Fedyir Sandor in a Ukrainian trench

There are still some remnants of the Soviet era both in Hungary and in Ukraine, said the newly appointed Ambassador of Ukraine to Hungary in an interview for the Glavcom Ukrainian news site. These can create enmities between, them but the newly fledged diplomat promises to smooth all the “sharp corners” between our countries, whether through cultural diplomacy, sports, or environmental diplomacy.

Fedyir Sandor’s (Sándor Fegyir) goal is to reduce the risks for Ukraine in relations with Hungary in any way possible. He also pledged to increase Ukrainian logistics capabilities as, for instance, Ukrainian-Hungarian border infrastructure is very poorly developed.

Twitter Fegyir Sándor

Sandor also said that on his arrival to Budapest, he intends to make more provisions for humanitarian aid by Hungary in order to increase its volume. In particular, the ones provided by Hungarian twin cities of Ukrainian settlements such as Borodianka, Bucha, or Andriivka. He also maintained that he intends to lobby for the reopening of inactive border checkpoints.

He continued by saying that

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán defends Hungary’s interests, as Ukraine defends its own.

“No one has the right to put the interests of other countries above the interests of their own country. Hungarian interests are being promoted in a negative way for us by specific agents of Moscow, both on our side and on the Hungarian side,” claimed Sandor.

He noted that Hungary was the first to recognize Ukraine’s independence in 1991. The government in Budapest also gave Ukraine fuel imported from Russia. Furthermore, he pointed to the fact that Hungary did not close its borders to Ukrainian refugees after the outbreak of the full-scale war. Currently, about 40,000 Ukrainians remain on Hungarian territory, but in all, over two million Ukrainian refugees have transited through the country.

Hungary is also the only country in Europe that still allows Ukrainians to use public transportation for free. The list of free services provided by Hungary to Ukrainian citizens is long,

Sandor pointed out. These include places to stay, initial financial assistance, warm clothes, and others.

The new ambassador also pledged to fight against negative stereotypes about “bad Ukrainians” and Magyars that have been created by manipulative media outlets and politicians. He pointed out that on August 24, a pro-Ukrainian rally took place in Budapest, led by mayor Gergely Karácsony. Most Hungarian cities support Ukraine, regardless of who voted for which party, he added.

Sandor also claimed that the secret transfer of 11 Ukrainian prisoners of war to Hungary by Russia was realized by a deal between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Order of Malta. Hungary itself as a state had nothing to do with this at all. “Did its statesmen know about such malicious intentions? I am not ready to comment on this. As for the Order of Malta, ask them, not the Hungarian government,” said the newly appointed ambassador.

Asked by the journalist as whether he has a problem with the Hungarian government not preventing this prisoner transfer, he replied by saying that

he would rather raise questions towards Ukrainian border guards who let people out with Ukrainian passports who are taking or have taken millions of dollars out of the country.

The Hungarian side has no questions to answer in this matter because all the parties involved were holding international documents issued by the Order of Malta.

Hungary insists that the Ukrainian law on education seriously violates the right of Hungarians in the Transcarpathian region to education in their native language and contradicts a number of international treaties. Sandor’s answer to this is that Ukraine is looking for alternative ways to publish textbooks in Hungarian, for example, by using grants. This is primarily to prevent children who graduated from Hungarian schools from leaving Ukraine. If a person knows both Hungarian and Ukrainian, he or she will be needed locally, but if only Hungarian, they will go to Hungary. Because of this, the number of people in villages is decreasing. This is where new conflict situations come from.

The statue of the mythical Hungarian Turul bird at Mukachevo (Munkács) castle recently removed and damaged by local authorities. Photo: Twitter

Asked whether Ukraine should revise the previously adopted law on education, Sandor replied that

the Ukrainian law on education concerns not only Hungarians. It is primarily aimed at fighting the Russians, carriers of an aggressive and hostile culture. It is clear that when a forest is cut down, wood chips fly.”

It is the same with this law. It has affected those who should not have been affected. The Romanian side also has comments, they just do it less emphatically. In Romanian-speaking schools in Chernivtsi or Transcarpathia, staff have also expressed their dissatisfaction with the Ukrainian language legislation, he said.

Systematic Harassment of Hungarian Teachers in Ukraine Continues
Systematic Harassment of Hungarian Teachers in Ukraine Continues

The deprivation of rights of the Hungarian minority continues in Ukraine.Continue reading

Sandor pointed out that there are about 400 people of Hungarian nationality currently serving in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. 31 have been killed so far. There have been no cases of desertion among Hungarians. There was not even a single anti-Ukrainian statement from their mouths. Not a single report that Hungarians refused to fight or went over to the enemy, said the Ukrainian diplomat. “What other facts do we need to prove that the Hungarians of Ukraine are completely on the side of the truth? None of them say: let us, the Magyars, go home. They, like their ancestors, are a real shield of Europe against the wild northern hordes.”

Facebook Fegyir Sándor

To the suggestion that the Hungarians living in Western Ukraine’s Transcarpathia feel hostage to Viktor Orbán’s policy he replied that

many Hungarians with whom I serve side by side do not condemn Hungary’s policy.”

“They tell me: cheap utilities, 13 pension payments per year, a family receives 10 million forints (EUR 2600) upon the birth of a third child, no need to pay interest on loans at all…” They see this as an incentive. Ukrainian-Hungarians approve of this, and at the same time they are defending Ukraine on the battlefield, he said.

When the Ukrainian journalist accused Hungary of financing the Russian war machine through buying gas from Moscow, Sandor replied by pointing out that the Odesa military commander bought a palace in Barcelona, that Ukrainian officials are selling humanitarian aid to refugees, that drunken judges kill young men from the National Guard on the road, and other incidents. Surely Orbán is not to blame for these issues. People must understand that Hungary is defending its own interests as Ukraine is defending its own, said Sandor.

New Ukrainian Ambassador with Hungarian Roots Appointed
New Ukrainian Ambassador with Hungarian Roots Appointed

There was a long delay in signing Sándor Fedyir's letter of acceptance.Continue reading

Featured Image: Facebook Sandor Fedyir

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