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Hungary’s Foreign Minister Expects Ukrainian Government to Protect Hungarian Minority Rights

By Tom Szigeti // 2017.04.12.

During a visit to Kiev, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said that his government expects Ukraine to guarantee the rights of ethnic Hungarians living on its territory, according to Hungarian wire service MTI.

Accompanied by his Czech and Slovak counterparts Lubomír Zaorálek and Miroslav Lajčák, Szijjártó held talks with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin on support by the three Visegrád Group countries (The Visegrád Group, or V4, is a grouping of Central European countries that includes Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Poland.

Szijjártó told a press conference that Hungary has provided “substantial help to Ukraine”; in return, the government expects its eastern neighbor to “guarantee the rights of ethnic Hungarians living on its territory.”

According to the Hungarian Foreign Minister, his country has spent billions of forints (millions of euros) supporting both Ukraine as a whole, and the Transcarpathian region in particular, which has a large ethnic Hungarian population. In return, Szijjártó said that Hungary demands that Ukraine’s government “stop hassling Hungarian minority organizations and halt all initiatives curbing minority rights.”

Kijev, 2017. április 11. A Külgazdasági és Külügyminisztérium által közzétett képen Pavlo Klimkin ukrán külügyminiszter (j2) fogadja Lubomír Zaorálek cseh (b) és Miroslav Lajcák szlovák (b2) külügyminisztert, valamint Szijjártó Péter külgazdasági és külügyminisztert (j) Kijevben 2017. április 11-én. MTI Fotó: KKM/Szabó Árpád

Pavlo Klimkin, Foreign Minister of Ukraine (2nd from the right) greets his counterparts, Péter Szijjártó from Hungary (far right),  Lubomír Zaorálek of the Czech Republic (far left), Miroslav Lajcák from Slovakia (2nd from the left) in Kiev (Photo: MTI- KKM/Árpád Szabó)

Emphasizing the size of his country’s contributions, he noted that Hungary has sent one of the largest contingents to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) mission in Ukraine. Szijjártó also mentioned that Hungary has sent 5 billion forint (16 million euro) in humanitarian aid to Transcarpathia, has offered a 47.1-million-euro credit line for infrastructure development in the region, and has opened 7 billion forint (22.4 million euro) worth of grants to support investment for small and medium companies in Transcarpathia.

Hungary “expects the Ukrainian parliament not to approve the education and language laws which would curb the rights of the Hungarian minority, nor should that community be adversely affected by the ban on dual citizenship,” he said.

Szijjártó said that Hungary would like the dual citizenship issue to be regulated in a bilateral agreement. Should bilateral talks not yield results on minority questions, Hungary is ready to take the matter to European forums, he warned.

The Ukrainian Foreign Minister responded that, due to Russian aggression in Ukraine, the question of dual citizenship is wrought with controversy. He insisted that proposed legislation did not target ethnic Hungarians living in Ukraine.

Via MTI and Hungary Matters

Images via MTI