“Those in need can always rely on Hungarians. This is why I came to Kyiv today and this is why we support the Grain from Ukraine initiative,” President Katalin Novák said in Kyiv on Saturday.
Novák has been invited by counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy to participate in the “Grain from Ukraine” humanitarian scheme launched on the 90th anniversary of the Holodomor, the great Ukrainian famine of 1932/1933, to promote grain exports to countries in Asia and Africa that are the most vulnerable to famine and drought.
Novák said that being the president of a neighbourly country with Ukraine, peace and stability were crucially important for her. “Securing the food supply chain and the undisturbed flow of goods is not only a dry issue of free trade or market economy but a matter of life and death,” she said.
The president added that Hungarians were not only aware of the horrors of the Holodomor, but belonged to the few nations that commemorate the tragedy. She cited a memorial in central Budapest, near Elizabeth bridge, and Hungarian parliament holding a commemoration on the anniversary. Parliament has given unanimous support to a resolution issued about the great famine, she added.
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In order to guarantee the autonomy of ethnic minorities in Hungary, all ethnic minorities are represented by an advocate in parliament, she said. “I am proud to say that there is also a Ukrainian representative in Hungary’s Parliament,” she added. Novák said the tragedy which happened 90 years ago “reminds us all that there are many people, men, women and especially children, threatened by famine even today”.
“Hungary always clearly stated that help must be taken to where it is needed. We, Hungarians are there when humanitarian aid is needed and when more than a million refugees need to be received from Ukraine. We are also there when it comes to medical equipment being sent or donated through the humanitarian scheme dubbed Hungary Helps. And we also offer help directly, as we are doing it today,” Novák said.
Hungary has offered to deliver 10,000 tonnes of grains worth 3.5 million dollars to Africa under the current scheme, she added. Hungary is also helping with logistics, with an intermodal terminal on the Hungary-Ukraine border which serves faster transport and, if necessary, storage of goods, she said.
Novák added that the war in Ukraine was the most important and urgent challenge in the region. The two sides must return to the negotiating table, reopen diplomatic channels and the final goal should be signing a fair peace agreement, which she said would serve everyone’s interest.
The president said she had been in office for six months and always condemned Russia’s aggression against the independent neighbour country, Ukraine. “As a wife and a mother with three children, I am shocked by the events in the neighbourly country and deeply share the grief and pain of all parents, mothers, fathers, husbands, grandparents and children,” she added.
Novák said it was everyone’s duty to help victims and those in need, adding that the greatest humanitarian scheme in Hungary’s history was under way, launched to help Ukrainians.
“Vladimir Putin’s responsibility for this war is crystal clear,” she said. “We, Hungarians stood against unnecessary bloodshed, pain and suffering right from the start,” she added. “Hungary and Ukraine are neighbours and our neighbour can always rely on our help,” she added. She expressed hope that 2023 will be a year of peace.
Novák to meet Transcarpathian Hungarians on Sunday
President Katalin Novák is scheduled to meet ethnic Hungarians in Transcarpathia on Sunday, the president’s office said. Novák will light a candle on the first Sunday of Advent and attend a mass in the company of ethnic Hungarians, a statement said on Saturday.
She said in a speech in Kyiv that she had also visited Transcarpathia in March, soon after the start of the war, when Russian forces were pushing forward, to help war refugees and to speak to members of the Hungarian minority.
She also said in Kyiv that “we have more than 150,000 reasons to stop the war and achieve peace”. “The 150,000 reasons are 150,000 ethnic Hungarians,” she said, adding that 500 members of the ethnic Hungarian community had died or got injured on the frontline or in war-related activities.
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