“There has been a significant step forward toward normalising Hungarian-Ukrainian relations and restoring the friendly cooperation between the two countries”, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Parliamentary State Secretary, Levente Magyar said on Wednesday in Uzhhorod (Ungvár), where he and Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Vasyl Bodnar reviewed issues relating to the implementation of the new Ukrainian Education Act, cross-border cooperation and the development of border infrastructure.

At the press conference following the three-hour meeting, Mr. Levente emphasised: based on the negotiations he believes there is a realistic chance of normalising Hungarian-Ukrainian relations in view of the fact that the Ukrainian party has confirmed that despite the coming into force of the Education Act, which has made relations between the two countries difficult, no changes will be made to the minority education system without the prior approval of minority representatives.

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“A series of negotiations will begin with Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and representatives of the Transcarpathian Hungarian community, and a meeting will be held with Minister of Education Lilija Hrinevics on 14 February”, he added, noting that in view of the Ukrainian party’s undertaking during their meeting in Uzhhorod he feels there is an excellent chance of coming to a rapid agreement, which would mean that the current status quo will not be changing until the Ukrainian Government and the Hungarian minority in Transcarpathia come to an agreement, which is approved by the latter.

“We did not want to create an international affair out of the issue of minority language education in Ukraine; circumstances dictated that the stipulations of the newly adopted education act, which ignored the opinion of minorities and violated the previous obligations included in international agreements concluded with the European Union and NATO, brought about a situation in which Hungary was forced to intervene”, the Parliamentary State Secretary highlighted. “I now see a serious chance that we will be able to leave this difficult period behind us and continue the extremely forward-looking cooperation that we have maintained with Ukraine since it gained independence”, he stressed.

Mr. Levente indicated that he and his Ukrainian negotiating partner had reviewed issues relating to projects aimed at developing relations, including the fact that Hungary would like to establish a motorway link with Ukraine in the upcoming years, would like to develop rail travel with the launching of new rail services, and would like to establish new border crossing points in the interests of making crossing the border more flexible. “We came to the conclusion that these projects must in no way be hindered by any issues that are causing difficulties in our relations, and which could hopefully be resolved within the coming weeks”, he underlined.

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In reply to a question from the press, the Parliamentary State Secretary explained that he regards the increasingly regular anti-Hungarian provocation in Transcarpathia as a worrying phenomenon, stressing that as in all other issues, the Hungarian Government is also relying on the pinion of the local Hungarian community with regard to this issue, and if it receives indications from them that they feel themselves to be in danger, then the Hungarian Government will certainly take action in the interests of protecting the Hungarian minority.