“The blocking of NATO-Ukraine Council meetings will continue until we are able to come to an agreement on the restoration of removed minority rights”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared at Tuesday’s session of the National Assembly.

In his pre-agenda speech, the Minister highlighted the fact that when this issue is discussed in global politics, Hungary is often portrayed as if this were a pro-Russian policy, which is “ridiculous”. “It is understandable that several thousand kilometres from here, an ocean away, from another mental perspective, 150 thousand Hungarians are less important than geopolitics, but this community is much more important to us than any geopolitical approach”, he said.

“The Ukrainian Foreign Minister, who has been tasked by the Ukrainian President with restoring bilateral relations, will be visiting Budapest on 26 March”, Mr. Szijjártó stated. “We are ready for this, and are also preparing for this latest meeting with rational proposals that are based on common sense”, he added.

“With relation to neighbouring countries, bilateral relations with Ukraine is the field in which Hungary has faced the most challenges”, the Foreign Minister explained. “Hungary is naturally on the side of Ukraine with relation to territorial integrity and sovereignty, but it should not be overlooked that Ukraine has often violated the rights of the Hungarian community living in Transcarpathia through legislative decisions, and has introduced laws that violate the rights of the Hungarian national community”, he pointed out. “We are not just talking about the rights of the Hungarian community, but about minority rights in general”, he added.

“Ukraine’s goal is for all Ukrainian citizens to speak the state language well, and Hungary’s goal is for cross-border Hungarian national communities to receive the rights relating to their own native language”, he stated. “These two goals are not mutually exclusive”, he pointed out. The Minister explained that children receiving Hungarian language education in Ukraine are taught Ukrainian for seven hours-a-week, which if it occurs at a suitable standard is sufficient to be able to learn the language well, but despite this they do not speak it well. “The reason for this is that the standard of Ukrainian language teaching is not sufficient, and accordingly the quality of Ukrainian language teaching must be improved, the costs of which Hungary is prepared to shoulder”, he emphasised.

“We have presented Ukraine with a complex proposal that includes infrastructure development projects in Transcarpathia, new border crossing stations and the improvement of motorway links, all within the framework of a 50-million-euro tied aid loan program, as well as agricultural cooperation”, Mr. Szijjártó stated.