Both Hungary and Ukraine are committed to settling their disputes in a reassuring way, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Facebook on Friday after talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in Budapest.
There are still some significant issues in bilateral relations where the sides have differing opinions, such as the education and language rights of ethnic Hungarian minorities, Szijjártó told a subsequent press conference.
Once the ethnic Hungarians in Transcarpathia say that these matters have been resolved, Hungary will stop blocking the NATO-Ukraine council meetings, he added.
A schedule has been agreed upon and a draft proposal received from Ukraine for a joint declaration to specify a roadmap that will include chapters on education, language use and economy, he said.
All three inter-governmental mixed committees will meet in June to work out solutions that will be acceptable to both the ethnic Hungarians in Transcarpathia and the Ukrainian government, he added.
Szijjártó stressed the need for joint success stories because it has been proven in other areas that it is easier to settle difficult matters on the basis of joint successes. Transcarpathia could become such a success story, with the Ukrainian president and the government planning significant infrastructure projects in the region. Hungary is happy to contribute to these by providing 50 million dollars in tied aid credit, he said.
Szijjártó also said that new border crossings could be opened and a Tisza bridge at Zahony revamped. Hungary is ready to continue an economic development scheme for Transcarpathia where more than 33,000 projects have already received support, he added.
Szijjártó said Hungarian companies such as OTP and Richter considered Ukraine an increasingly important market. Bilateral trade exceeded 4 billion dollars last year and a 66 million dollar credit line was opened at Eximbank to develop cooperation.
He said the novel coronavirus epidemic had shown that the countries of central Europe depend on each other. Solidarity has been expressed between countries in a difficult situation, with Hungary helping the transport home of Ukrainians stuck in western Europe and providing 8.5 tonnes of protective gear to health institutions in Transcarpathia.
Szijjártó appreciated Kuleba paying his first official trip abroad as foreign minister to Budapest, saying that this was an important sign for future relations.
Dmytro Kuleba said it was time to “open a new chapter in bilateral relations, find mutually beneficial solutions to open issues and continue supporting each other”. He praised Hungary’s effective protective measures against the epidemic and expressed thanks for the help in transporting Ukrainians home.
In response to a question, Szijjártó said Ukraine had banned entry to foreign citizens at the start of the epidemic but in the upcoming weeks restrictions on the border could be eased. He proposed allowing commuters to cross at first and cited similar existing agreements with other countries.
The ministers signed a protocol on amending an agreement about a financial cooperation framework scheme and a letter of intent on cooperation in energy efficiency.
featured image via Tamás Kovács/MTI