Strong interest representation is a guarantee of the survival of ethnic Hungarians in Transcarpathia, and support from the mother country helps all Ukrainian citizens in the region regardless of ethnicity, the state secretary for Hungarian communities abroad said on Thursday.
Over the past ten years, ethnic nationality rights suffered a gradual decline in Transcarpathia, Árpád János Potápi told an online conference focusing on Ukraine and its western parts during the Covid-19 epidemic and the local elections.
He said no positive developments in minority rights had taken place, and despite various cultural, educational and economic schemes under way, the organisations that carry them out suffered continual harrassment, including repeated attempts to make their operations impossible, he added.
Potápi said that Ukraine had broken a nearly decade-long practice of tolerance of national minorities and clearly aimed to define itself as a nation state.
European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi said that Ukraine, being a member of the United Nations and the Council of Europe, must respect international agreements on minority rights.
The time has come for the Ukrainian government to consider minorities as partners and involve them in new legislation in the making on minorities, he said. The aim is for the amendment to be supported by local minorities, he added.
Várhelyi said he insisted that Ukraine should implement the recommendations of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission.
Commenting on an upcoming European Union-Ukraine summit, he said the development of political-economic relations will be reviewed based on the association agreement.
László Brenzovics, president of the Transcarpathian Hungarian Cultural Association, said Hungary had provided the strongest support during the epidemic. The reform of public administration in Ukraine has had a negative effect on ethnic Hungarians in Transcarpathia, he said, adding that the only district which used to have ethnic Hungarian majority, Berehove, had changed in a way that Hungarians lost that majority.
featured image via Zoltán Balogh/MTI