Hungary is interested in nurturing “good neighbourly relations” with Ukraine and wishes for its eastern neighbour to be a strong and democratic country that respects its international obligations and views its national minorities as assets, Hungary’s foreign minister said in Luxembourg on Monday.
Ukraine has no reason not to regard its minorities as assets, Péter Szijjártó told a press conference after bilateral talks with Pavlo Klimkin, his Ukrainian counterpart.
Speaking during a break of a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Eastern Partnership countries, Szijjártó underscored Hungary’s openness to consulting with Ukraine.
Hungary considers it important to have open and meaningful communication between the two countries, he said.
Hungary expects Ukraine to demonstrate that it intends to resolve the current situation between the two countries rather than escalate it, not just in words but through actions as well, Szijjártó said.
In terms of gestures, “Hungary has done what it could”, he said, noting that the Hungarian government has spent 27.5 billion forints (EUR 84.7m) on funding economic development schemes in Ukraine over the past four years. Hungary has also hosted some 2,600 children from Ukraine in summer camps and treated 36 Ukrainian soldiers. Hungary provided immediate help in supplying drinking water to western Ukraine when it was asked and provides state scholarships to hundreds of Ukrainian university students, Szijjártó said.
He expressed hope that Ukraine, too, will make decisions that will allow the two countries to settle their disputes.
He added, however, that there were certain “worrying factors” in their relations. Kiev has yet to deliver on any of its promises concerning its controversial education law approved last year, Szijjártó argued.
Hungary cannot interpret the approval of a first draft of Ukraine’s language law as a step towards a solution, Szijjártó said. “If the language law is approved in its current form, it will make the use of the Hungarian language in the media and culture impossible.”
He also called it “worrying” that Ukrainian website Myrotvorets has published the personal details of Hungarian private individuals. Szijjártó said he had asked his Ukrainian colleague to take action over this development.
The minister said a petition that has appeared on the website of the Ukrainian parliament seeking the deportation of Transcarpathian Hungarians was also a cause for concern.
“It is unacceptable, impermissible and repulsive that signatures can be collected for such a proposal in Europe today,” he said. Szijjártó said he and Klimkin were in agreement that this phenomenon had to end.
The two ministers agreed on providing operating permits to an honorary consul in their respective countries.
Additionally, Hungary will consider changing the title of its government commissioner responsible for coordinating development projects in Transcarpathia — without changing the official’s function — which will open the door for Hungary’s ambassador to Kiev being granted an operating permit, Szijjártó said.
Featured image: MTI