Hungary has been “extremely generous” in its support of Ukraine in recent years, but still “firmly expects” its north-eastern neighbour to respect the rights of its ethnic Hungarian community, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Riga on Wednesday.
Despite its tensions with Ukraine, Hungary has not suspended its support to the country in recent years, the foreign ministry cited Szijjártó as saying ahead of talks with his Ukrainian and Georgian counterparts Dmytro Kuleba and David Zalkaliani.
Speaking to reporters, Szijjártó noted that most of the western natural gas imported by Ukraine last year had been shipped via Hungary, and that the Hungarian government had organized summer camps for thousands of Ukrainian children from families affected by conflict in eastern Ukraine. Further, Hungarian hospitals have treated dozens of Ukrainian soldiers and Hungary has donated more than 100 ventilators to the country. Hungary is also giving more financial aid to Ukrainian hospitals, cultural institutions, schools and churches, the minister added.
“We’re extremely generous and we will continue to be,” Szijjártó said.
He added, at the same time, that hopefully the Ukrainian authorities would respect the rights of the country’s ethnic Hungarian community in the future, arguing that Ukraine was “constantly infringing on their rights”. Szijjártó called on Kiev to restore the rights of its minority communities.
On the topic of potential arms deliveries to Ukraine by NATO countries, Szijjártó said the matter would be discussed at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers.
“We’re interested in peace in the region given our very bad memories from the time of the Cold War,” Szijjártó said, adding that central Europe had always lost out in conflicts between East and West.
“We want to live in peace and stability, and we’d prefer if everyone respected this,” he said.
Asked about Georgia’s potential accession to NATO, Szijjártó said the alliance should take Tbilisi’s NATO aspirations “far more seriously” and should aid its integration process.
Szijjártó said Georgia had been the biggest non-NATO contributor to the alliance’s mission in Afghanistan and regularly participates in the organisation’s operations. “I don’t know what more we could expect,” he added.
Featured photo illustration by Tamás Kovács/MTI