The foreign ministry is summoning Ukraine’s ambassador to Hungary over an attack against the headquarters of ethnic Hungarian cultural association KMKSZ in Uzhhorod, in western Ukraine’s Transcarpathia region, that saw the building set on fire, the foreign minister said on Tuesday.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, unidentified attackers broke one of the building’s windows and threw in a petrol bomb or another type of explosive, which set the building on fire, burning out most of the ground floor.
Speaking to public news channel M1, Péter Szijjártó noted that this was the second attack against the KMKSZ headquarters this month, adding that “shocking developments” were taking place in Ukraine. “Extremist political views” are gaining ground, he said.
This can be seen in the laws that have been passed by Ukraine’s parliament “which severely restrict the rights of minorities” Szijjártó said, and the “constant intimidation” of Transcarpathia Hungarians.
“All of this is unacceptable”, and if Ukraine is serious about deepening its ties with the European Union and NATO, it must be able to “keep extremists at bay”, Szijjártó said.
In addition to summoning the Ukrainian ambassador, the foreign ministry will send back the Hungarian ambassador to Kiev and the consul-general to Uzhhorod, both of whom had been in Budapest for the meeting of Hungarian ambassadors, he said.
Szijjártó said he is also scheduled to meet the OSCE high commissioner on national minorities on Tuesday and that he will request that the organisation establish a presence in Transcarpathia as well.
The Prime Minister’s Office said it will provide help with repairing the damage done to KMKSZ’s headquarters. “The state secretariat for Hungarian communities abroad is shocked to hear of the attack carried out against the headquarters of the Transcarpathian Hungarian Cultural Association and condemns it in the strongest terms,” Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén, state secretary for ethnic Hungarian communities abroad Árpád János Potápi and István Grezsa, government commissioner in charge of Transcarpathia, said in a statement.
The Hungarian government will provide all the help and resources needed for repairing the damage and ensuring that KMKSZ can carry on with its responsibilities of representing Transcarpathia Hungarians as quickly as possible, the statement said.
The ruling Fidesz party also condemned the attack and said the Ukrainian government and Brussels should not tolerate any more of “the intimidation of Transcarpathia Hungarians”. In a statement, Fidesz called on the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) to condemn the attack and on the European Commission to take action in defence of Transcarpathia Hungarians.
“This is an open attack against Transcarpathia Hungarians,” Fidesz communications director Balázs Hidvéghi said. He said responsibility for the attacks against the KMKSZ office this month lay with the Ukrainian government’s policies of restricting minority rights and the country’s new education law, which he said had emboldened extremists.
Featured image: MTI