“Representing cross-border Hungarian communities will remain one of the most important tasks of foreign policy, as has been the case so far”, Péter Szijjártó said on Tuesday at his hearing before Parliament’s National Solidarity Committee prior to his reappointment as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Mr. Szijjártó said the existence of national unity is a resource that would be difficult to replace. He said that in his opinion in recent years there have been very few issues with relation to which a broad national consensus has come about that transcends party politics, but those that did were in the most part related to the sphere of competence of the National Solidarity Committee.

He stressed that regardless of any and all international pressure, the Government will exclusively be prepared to take into account Hungarian interests. The Ministry will continue to make use of all available international political instruments in the interests of protecting Hungarian national communities, and will continue to reject the hurtful and unfair accusations that are attempting to portray the Hungarian Government’s policy of protecting cross-border Hungarians as being determined by a third party, Mr. Szijjártó underlined.

Hungarian foreign policy will be determined and unyielding, he declared.

The candidate for the post of Minister said Hungary will be maintaining its veto of NATO-Ukraine ministerial meetings and the convening of the NATO-Ukraine summit as long as Ukraine fails to guarantee that it will not violate the rights of the Hungarian national community.

If an agreement can be reached with Ukraine concerning the fact that they will not implement the amendment of the Education Act until 2023 and only implement the parts of the legislation with relation to which they have come to an agreement with the Hungarian national community, in addition to fully removing private schools from the scope of effect of the Act, then we can talk about the lifting of the veto, he told the Committee.

He said the fact that Ukraine is trying to make the international community believe that postponing the implementation of the Act until 2023 would solve the problem was a deception.

Mr. Szijjártó stressed that the Governments’ position is in line with that of the European Union: Ukraine must fulfil the requirements of the Venice Commission, it must consult with representatives of the Hungarian national community, and previously acquired rights cannot be withdrawn.

Ukraine has also launched an “international campaign of lies” in which it is attempting to imply that the Russians are behind the Hungarian Government’s policy of defending Transcarpathian Hungarians, the politician said.

“So we have a country that claims it is striving to become a member of the EU and NATO, yet it wants to strip the citizens of EU and NATO member states of their Ukrainian citizenship”, Mr. Szijjártó said.

The candidate for the post of Foreign Minister said it is unacceptable that while the headquarters of the organisation that provides for the representation of Transcarpathian Hungarians has been bombed twice within the space of a single month, NATO and EU member states “are not saying a word about the issue”.

Mr. Szijjártó also spoke about Hungarian-Romanian relations, explaining that a door is still open in the case of the Catholic Lyceum in Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mureș) and there is a legal possibility for enabling the school to continue operating from September in view of the fact that the Romanian Education Act is currently being amended to enable the Minister of Education to establish an institution independently within his own sphere of competence.

If this legislative process does not occur, we will need to rethink what action the Hungarian Government must take with regard to the issue. The same is true with regard to the forced merger of the University of Medical Science in Marosvásárhely, he noted.

On the subject of Hungarian-Slovakian relations, Mr. Szijjártó said the two countries are building a bridge both figuratively and literally. Progress is being made with relation to minority issues, although perhaps a little more slowly than dictated by the Government’s “preference”.

Slovakia recently enabled the use of the Hungarian language in civil court cases, the names of settlements are also appearing in Hungarian at railways stations, and Hungarian nursery schools have been able to continue operating thanks to increased funding from the Slovakian budget, he listed.

Mr. Szijjártó said that since his last hearing before the Committee, some 31 thousand tenders had been given funding totalling 43.5 billion forints (EUR 137 million) within the framework of cross-border economic development programmes. Thanks to this funding, Hungarian enterprises have realised 82.5 billion forints (EUR 260 million) of investment in cross-border areas.

The Committee accepted Mr. Szijjártó’s reappointment as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade with five Fidesz and KDNP votes in favour, two Jobbik votes against and one abstention from the Committee’s MSZP party member.

Following the vote, the Supervisory Sub-Committee and the Autonomy Sub-Committee were established.