“Our duty is to protect the Hungarian people, whether they live in Hungary, across the border, or thousands of kilometres away”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared at a press conference in Budapest on Monday.

Mr. Szijjártó told the press that he had met with President of the Cultural Union of Hungarians in Transcarpathia (KMKSZ) László Brenzovics to discuss further measures with relation to Ukraine’s new Education Act.

According to the Minister, he will be sending a letter explaining the situation and calling for urgent action to the OSCE Secretary General, the organisation’s High Commissioner for National Minorities, and the current Chair of the OSCE.

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Mr. Szijjártó will also be calling for similar urgent action on the fart of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the EU Commissioner f or Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy. “All international treaties must be made use of to ensure that the “outrageous” legislative amendment does not come into force”, he pointed out.

“During at least the past six months, the main topic on the agenda of every single Hungarian-Ukrainian bilateral meeting were Ukraine’s proposed legislative amendments, including the acts on education, nationality and language alike”, Mr. Szijjártó said.

“We continue to regard as shameful and outrageous the new Education Act, which drastically restricts the access of minorities, including the Hungarian national minority, to native language teaching in a manner that makes that practically impossible from the age of 10 and is incompatible with European values and regulations”, he stressed.

“The new law not only goes against regulations on Hungarian-Ukrainian relations and the association agreement between the European Union and Ukraine, but also seriously contravenes Ukraine’s own constitution”, the Minister highlighted.

The situation cannot be interpreted in any other manner than that Ukraine has stabbed Hungary in the back, Mr. Szijjártó said.

Hungary was the loudest supporter of Ukrainian citizens being afforded visa-free travel into the European Union, was the first to ratify the associating agreement, transported natural gas to Ukraine, which constituted somewhat of a risk in view of its geopolitical status, afforded 2600 Ukrainian children free holidays in Hungary and supplied 600 million forints (EUR 2 million) in humanitarian aid to Ukraine, he recalled.

“There is a measure of cynicism in the fact that this decision ‘happens to have been made’ immediately after every European ratification process concerning visa free-travel and the association agreement have been completed”, he said.

Hungary will be taking the firmest possible action via international diplomatic chnnels, and his order with regard to the fact that Hungarian diplomats will not be supporting any Ukrainian initiatives in any international organisations, or supporting and issues that are important to Ukraine, continues to be in force, Mr. Szijjártó added.

In reply to a question, the Hungarian Foreign Minister said he had discussed the issue with four or his counterparts during the informal meeting of foreign ministers in Tallinn over the weekend, in addition to which he also raised the issue during meetings with foreign ministers from the countries of the Eastern Partnership.

Mr. Szijjártó also noted that the next session of the United Nation Human Rights Council is about to begin, and Hungary will be taking determined action to insure that Ukraine is condemned for its actions.

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The Minster also told reporters that he had also met with President of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ) Hunor Kelemen and Archbishop of Alba Iulia György Jakubinyi on Monday to discuss the issue of the Catholic Secondary School in Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mureș).

According to Mr. Szijjártó, the approach and measures of the Chairman of the leading Romanian governing party must be regarded as positive, but it must be realised that the result of these measures is that the students of the Catholic Hungarian School can continue to attend a Hungarian school in future, but the school itself has to all intents and purposes ceased to exist. We clearly cannot regard this as meaning that “the case has now been put in order”, he said.

We will continue to provide all possible assistance to ensure that the Catholic Hungarian School can continue to operate. To this end we are continuously providing the Hungarian minority living in the city and the Catholic Church with the required legal and public administration advice, the Minister said. The continued existence of the Hungarian School depends exclusively on the Romanian authorities, he highlighted.

“Until the situation is properly resolved, Hungary is unable to support Romania’s bid for membership of the OECD”, indicated Mr. Szijjártó, who also mentioned that the issue had been on the agenda of every single official contact between Hungary and Romania in recent years. “Romania did not just find out within the past few days that this is an issue that is important to Hungary”, he declared.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó also reacted to statements made over the weekend by pro-immigration politicians. “It’s no use”, not matter what international pressure they attempt to put on Hungary, the Hungarian Government will not change its immigration policy, he said. The Government continues to view illegal immigration and the introduction of mandatory resettlement quotas as a bad and dangerous thing.

“We continue to stand by our legal standpoint according to which the decision of the European Court of Justice represents no obligation to Hungary, and especially does not impel it to accept illegal immigrants”, Mr. Szijjártó said. “We can see that any European politicians are worried about the rule of law and for illegal immigrants, but it is high time they began worrying about people who are already in Europe, for instance national minorities”, he noted.

In reply to a question concerning the so-called “lex Heineken” case, Mr. Szijjártó said the red star was an authoritarian symbol of dictatorship and that it is quite right that the European Commission should not force us to tolerate symbols of the dictatorship that has caused so much suffering during the course of our history on various trade symbols.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)