Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó presented a proposal to Ukrainian government officials on Friday concerning Ukrainian language education for minorities and the preservation of ethnic Hungarians’ mother tongue in Transcarpathia.
Szijjártó held a joint press conference with Deputy Prime Minister Dmytro Kuleba after their meeting in Kiev.
“We understand Ukraine’s expectation to ensure that every citizen living in its territory should be able to speak Ukrainian and we also want to ensure that ethnic Hungarians living in Transcarpathia should be able to preserve their mother tongue,” Szijjártó said.
“We believe both objectives can be achieved at the same time,” he added.
Szijjártó said he had presented the Hungarian proposal to Education Minister Anna Novosad and they agreed that she would meet leaders of the Transcarpathia Hungarians’ teachers association in the near future.
He said the Hungarian government has a vested interest in rebuilding good neighbourly relations with Ukraine.
“However, we would like to build up some pragmatic success stories which could help rebuild good relations between the two countries,” he added.
“This is why we have invited an intergovernmental cooperation committee meeting in Budapest in March,” he said. Szijjártó and Koleba agreed that after a hiatus of seven years it is high time for the committee to meet again.
In the meeting, Budapest would like to agree on opening at least one new border crossing between the two countries, he said. Further targets include agreements on the use of a Hungarian infrastructure credit line offered previously, developing agricultural and veterinary cooperation and the mutual acceptance of academic degrees, he added.
“I agree with Dmytro Kuleba that Transcarpathia should be made a success story,” he said.
“Hungary is ready to continue its economic development programme launched in Transcarpathia and support for the operation of educational, health and cultural institutions in the region,” he added.
“If the committee’s meeting is a success, it will pave the way for a spring summit between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán,” he said. Szijjártó added that Hungary was ready to provide humanitarian support for Ukraine and welcomed the planned launch of direct air services between Budapest and Zaporizhia in the near future.
Kuleba told MTI that the culture ministry would draft a proposal on the protection of minority rights and put it to a public debate. He said that Kiev would make every possible effort to promote minority protection in line with its international obligations and would not delay the passage of the law.
Kuleba expressed thanks to Hungary for supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity and contributing to the rehabilitation of Ukrainian children.
Szijjártó also met Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko and Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk.