“The Hungarian Government is ready to engage in consultation and to come to an agreement with relation to the Ukrainian Education Act, but only if the contents of such an agreement are in line with the interests and will of Transcarpathian Hungarians”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said on Thursday in Budapest.

The Minister held a meeting with President of the Hungarian Cultural Federation in Transcarpathia László Brenzovics, after which at their joint press conference, he highlighted: “Hungary has 150 thousand arguments for why it has an interest in a democratic Ukraine and good Hungarian-Ukrainian cooperation, in view of the fact that there are 150 thousand Hungarians living in Ukraine, and primarily in Transcarpathia”.

“Good cooperation between the given country and their home country is in the fundamental interests of all cross-border Hungarian national communities, and accordingly the Hungarian Government has always striven to engage in cooperation with every neighbouring country based on mutual respect”, Mr. Szijjártó explained. “Hungary was the loudest supporter of Ukraine’s European integration processes, and as a result Hungary and the Hungarian national community regarded it as a “stab in the back” when Ukraine’s Parliament adopted the new Education Act, which fundamentally restricts the rights of national minorities”, he reminded the press.

“Hungary’s standpoint continued to be that this legislation contravenes international and European law as well as bilateral agreements including the 1991 basic treaty between Hungary and Ukraine. This is in line with the EU’s expectations, according to which previously acquired minority rights cannot be withdrawn and minorities must be consulted with relation to any changes that might affect them, in addition to which the recommendations and decisions of the Venice Commission must be implemented”, he explained.

“Based on the latter, the most effected method of providing a solution to the situation would be the amendment of the amendment of the legislation, but since the decision of the Venice Commission the Ukrainian Government has not entered into discussion with either the Hungarian Government or Transcarpathian Hungarians”, he added.


“The fact that several new bills have been put before Ukraine’s parliament that would further reduce the rights of the Hungarian community is cause for further concern”, the Minister emphasised. “Preparations have begun on new legislation concerning secondary school legislation, but neither Hungary nor the Transcarpathian Hungarians have been consulted”, he said, adding that in addition, the Minority Act is also in preparation and the draft of the Nationality Act, which could pose a threat to people with dual citizenship, has already been submitted, in addition to which the new legislation on media use by minorities is also expected to lead to the further reduction of rights.

“Hungary stands by its decision to refuse to support Ukraine’s integration aspirations until this state of affairs that violated European and international laws and standards continues to exist”, Mr. Szijjártó said. “Hungary will continue to veto the convening of the Defence Ministers’ Session of the NATO-Ukraine Commission until the situation is resolved”, he said.
The Minister said that in his opinion this is not a bilateral issue, but an international issue, and Hungary rejects the fact that such issues should not be taken into account in NATO.


László Brenzovics declared: “Transcarpathian Hungarians have an interest in good Hungarian-Ukrainian relations and in Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration, but not at the price of their minority rights”. “This is a serious conflict, but we cannot back down”, he added.

As he explained, the measures planned and already introduced in Ukraine would totally do away with the Hungarian minority’s education and cultural institutions, which would call into question the continued existence of the community in the land of their birth. “The measures violate Ukraine’s Constitution, its international commitments and the basic treaty between Hungary and Ukraine” he continued, adding that “Hopefully the Ukrainian President will fulfil his promise to implement the Venice Commission’s resolution”. Mr. Brenzovics thanked Hungary for its solidarity and support with relation to the issue.


In reply to a question, Mr. Szijjártó spoke about the fact that on Wednesday the Chargé D’affaires of the United States Embassy in Budapest submitted the application required for the appointment of the new U.S. Ambassador, explaining that the request would be assessed as quickly as possible, because it is in Hungary’s interests for the foreign representation to be headed by an Ambassador at the earliest opportunity.

With relation to a question concerning the fact that the Democratic Coalition (DK) has said that the Hungary-Ukraine pensions agreement should be amended, the Foreign Minister said: “This inter-governmental agreement was signed in the 1960’s, and since then DK Chairman Ferenc Gyurcsány has served as the country’s Prime Minister, yet the amendment of this international agreement was never suggested”.