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May 29, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

FM Szijjártó: Both Ukraine and Hungary must benefit from cooperation

At today’s press conference, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó signed a protocol amending the agreement between the Government of Hungary and the Government of Ukraine, establishing a Framework for Financial Cooperation and a Memorandum of Understanding concerning energy efficiency, renewable energy and alternative fuels.

We here in Central Europe live in close cooperation and are dependent on each other, said Minister Szijjártó, greeting his Ukrainian counterpart, Minister Dmytro Kuleba. Many Ukrainian citizens had to return home from various locations, and Hungary made it possible for them to do so. Hungary has also donated a total of 8.5 tons of protective equipment to Transcarpathian healthcare institutions, he added.

There are significant issues that the two countries judge differently, such as the issue of education and language in the Hungarian communities outside of Hungary’s borders. Szijjártó, however, stressed that one thing is certain: We both want to resolve these issues.

“We are waiting for the opportunity when the Hungarians of Transcarpathia say that everything is fine,” said Minister Szijjártó. “If that happens, we will lift our block on the NATO-Ukraine Commission. We're not there yet.”

In June, all three bi-lateral working groups will start operating, including the Economy and Joint Committee, the Committee of the Protection of Minorities and the Committee of Education. It is up to these groups to find a solution to the disputes that satisfies both the Hungarians in Transcarpathia and the Ukrainian Government.

We are pleased that the Ukrainian Government is planning major developments in Transcarpathia, and we are happy to contribute to this, which is why an agreement was signed to extend the Hungarian loan agreement, providing USD 50 million in loan assistance for Transcarpathian developments.

In addition, we would like to open the border between Nagyhódos and Nagypalád as soon as possible, he said. We are also ready to build a border crossing point between Beregdéda and Beregdaróc and renovate the Tisza bridge in Záhony.

The minister pointed out that Hungary has supported 33,000 applications for funding, adding up to HUF 14.3 billion in budget support for a total investment of HUF 19 billion in Transcarpathia. A total of 2,366 Ukrainian children have also been able to attend a one-week camp in Hungary.

The Hungarian Government continues its reverse gas supply to Ukraine, reaching 14 billion cubic meters so far, and the two countries are also cooperating in the field of renewable energy, which will be guided by the agreement signed today.

In terms of economic cooperation, large Hungarian companies consider Ukraine an important market, such as OTP, which is the 9th largest bank in Ukraine, or Richter, which exports products to Ukraine. Hungary’s Eximbank opened a USD 66 million credit line for Hungarian companies to enter the Ukrainian market.

It is important that we end the disputes caused by the Education Act and the Language Use Act in a reassuring way, Minister Szijjártó said, and as soon as we reach a solution that Hungarians in Transcarpathia find acceptable, we will reverse our decision to block the NATO-Ukraine Commission.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba thanked Szijjártó for his hospitality. He emphasized that Hungary had acted effectively in the fight against the epidemic in order to preserve the health of Hungarian citizens. The epidemic has put healthcare in focus, and Ukraine is also planning a number of developments in healthcare.

He said their goal is to build a hospital in Beregszász in a joint effort supported by both the Ukrainian and the Hungarian prime ministers, a project that serves as a symbol of joint cooperation.

He said their goal is to build a hospital in Beregszász in a joint effort supported by both the Ukrainian and the Hungarian prime ministers, a project that serves as a symbol of joint cooperation.

The minister highlighted that the efforts of the Hungarian government were extremely important in the transit of Ukrainian citizens during the crisis.

The loan document signed on Friday reinforces the emphasis on trade and business development between the two countries. Minister Kuleba highlighted that they support the export and investment activities of Ukrainian companies in Hungary. Current merchandise turnover is USD 2.5-3 billion, but he expects that figure to increase.

Kuleba additionally touched on the issue of increasing Hungarian quotas for Ukrainian freighters. Regarding the political dialogue, the Ukranian government looks forward to PM Orbán's visit to Ukraine and is pleased to see the three bi-lateral committees taking up their work, he noted.

There is no objective basis for problems between Ukraine and Hungary, said Minister Kuleba, and it is important to find solutions. Ukraine expects to receive support from Hungary regarding NATO membership, and they will also support Hungary’s initiatives in relation to Central European countries. Both countries must benefit from cooperation.