Hungary is sticking to its policy concerning Ukraine’s education law and will thwart Ukraine’s endeavours in international organisations unless that country “provides legal guarantees”, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó told a press conference on Monday.
Szijjártó insisted that if the Hungarian government “gave up its veto power” in international organisations, it would “give up the only means to protect Transcarpathia Hungarians and make Ukraine observe international law”.
Szijjártó also said that Hungary had vetoed a NATO-Ukraine defence ministers’ meeting originally set for February 14-15.
The minister said that although international organisations had tried to pressure Hungary into giving up its veto, it had resisted. Under Hungary’s foreign policy, the government has a responsibility to protect Hungarians wherever they may live, he added. Everything is connected on the global political stage, so Hungary has not accepted the argument that it should not tie its veto power to an issue concerning minorities, Szijjártó said.
The minister said the issue surrounding Ukraine’s education law was more than a bilateral issue, arguing that by passing the legislation, Ukraine had violated basic international law.
Every country that strives for tight integration with NATO has to take on annual commitments, Szijjártó said, adding that Ukraine had made a commitment to respecting minority rights. If Ukraine is serious about deepening its ties with NATO and the European Union, it must meet their expectations, he said.
In order for Hungary to give up its veto power, Kiev must follow the EU and the Venice Commission’s recommendations in connection with the law and suspend its implementation until it has worked out all of its details with minority groups, Szijjártó said.
The minister said there was “communication warfare ongoing” in connection with the dispute on the education law, because certain entities had tried to publish stories in the media claiming that an agreement had been reached in the matter. But this is not the case, Szijjártó said. He added that if Ukraine simply extended the transitional phase for the law’s introduction, the situation would not change because it would only mean a delay in the introduction of the exact same law.
Hungary’s interest lies in resolving the dispute, Szijjártó said.
Consultations between the Ukrainian government and Transcarpathia Hungarians could begin as early as this Wednesday and the Hungarian government is ready to give Transcarpathia Hungarians all the support they need, he added.
Featured image: MTI