“We have an interest in relations between Hungary and Ukraine improving significantly in future, and in the establishment of cooperation that is good for Ukraine, good for Hungary and good for Transcarpathian Hungarians”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared on Tuesday in Berehove (Beregszász), where he met with leaders of Transcarpathian Hungarian organisations.

At a press conference following the meeting at the II. Ferenc Rákóczi Transcarpathian Hungarian College of Higher Education, Mr. Szijjártó emphasised: “Hungary has an interest in Ukraine being a strong, stable and democratic country, because that will have a good effect on both Hungarian-Ukrainian relations and the life of the Transcarpathian Hungarian community”.

“We truly hope – and hoping is not interference in internal affairs – that a parliamentary distribution of power develops in Kiev that enables a significant improvement in relations between the two countries”, he added.

“Hungary would like the Ukrainian administration to regard the Transcarpathian Hungarian community as a resource that strengthens Ukraine and facilitates the putting in order of Hungarian-Ukrainian relations”, he highlighted.

“The current condition of bilateral relations is not good for Ukraine in view of the fact that it does not have Hungary’s support behind it with relation to its European and Euro-Atlantic integration aspirations, and it is not good for Hungary either in view of the fact that we don’t like to be on bad terms with our neighbours, and it is especially not good for the Transcarpathian Hungarian community, which has to live under such conditions while withstanding intimidation, the violation of its rights, and surprise strikes by armed men wearing ski masks”, the Minister explained.

“Relations have not developed so badly in recent years because of us, because the decisions that would have restricted the rights of the Hungarian community in Ukraine were not made in Budapest”, Mr. Szijjártó said.

With relation to the situation of Transcarpathian Hungarians, he underlined: “The better they live and the stronger their community, the more they can contribute to the success of Ukraine”.

“We have provided a lot of assistance towards this in the recent period, and have provided 13.5 billion forints (EUR 41.4 million) in funding to 23 thousand small and medium-sized applicants, as a result of which investment projects worth a total of 18 billion forints (EUR 55.3 million) have been realised”, the Minister told the press.

This is also in Ukraine’s interests, he continued, declaring that Hungary will continue to provide funding in future. He said Hungary had continued to stand up in support of Ukraine when, during the reign of the previous Ukrainian president, the rights of Transcarpathian Hungarians were regularly violated and Hungarian officials were often intimidated.

Mr. Szijjártó recalled that when Transcarpathia’s Ukrainian governor reported on the fact that there was a major shortage of vaccines, or with relation to the fact that stocks of the liquid chlorine required to purify drinking water were running out, Hungary immediately rushed to the county’s assistance, because “we believe that good neighbourly relations are worth more than anything else, and we will continue to strive to maintain good neighbourly relations in future”.

He expressed his hope that the new Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky will have enough room for manoeuvre to provide a suitable level of support towards this.

The Hungarian Foreign Minister indicated that Budapest has a plan to improve relations, but this also requires the Ukrainian administration.

“As soon as the Ukrainian administration restores the rights that have been stripped from the Hungarian community and as soon as it stops the intimidation operations, the opportunity could open up for close economic cooperation that serves the interests of both countries”, he said, adding that the Hungarian Government has authorised a 50-million-euro tied aid credit budget for infrastructure development projects in Ukraine.

Mr. Szijjártó confirmed that Hungary will immediately withdraw its veto concerning the session of the NATO-Ukraine Commission if the provocations against Transcarpathian Hungarians come to an end and the community has its rights restored. He also expressed his hope that Hungarian Members of Parliament in Ukraine will also be able to contribute to improving relations between the two countries.

The Minister also announced that he has nominated Transcarpathia’s former Governor, Gennady Moskal for a Hungarian state decoration for his activities in the interests of developing relations between the two countries and preserving the rights of the Transcarpathian Hungarian community.

At the press conference, President of the Transcarpathian Hungarian Cultural Association (KMKSZ) László Brenzovich said the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia has an extreme interest in the restoration of Hungarian-Ukrainian relations.

He expressed his objections to the fact that on Monday, based on the ruling of a court in Kiev, armed police wearing masks searched the apartment of country representative Károly Rezes, the election campaign chief of the Transcarpathian Hungarian organisations in the district of Nagyszőlősi, citing claims that he was preparing to buy votes at Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

The leader of the KMKSZ called on the Ukrainian president to stop the official measures aimed at intimidating Transcarpathian Hungarians and assure them the right to hold free elections.