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Jul 17, 2019

Foreign Minister hopes to improve Hungary's relations with Ukraine

“We sincerely hope — and hoping does not equal meddling in internal affairs — that the makeup of the new parliament in Kiev will allow for the two countries to significantly improve their relations,” the Foreign Minister said.

The Foreign Minister has underlined that Hungary’s interest lies in bringing about a significant improvement in its ties with the Ukraine and establishing mutually beneficial cooperation for both countries and the Transcarpathian Hungarian community.

After meeting the leaders of Transcarpathian Hungarian organizations, Péter Szijjártó said Hungary is interested in a strong, stable and democratic Ukraine, arguing that this would have a positive impact on bilateral ties and the lives of the country’s ethnic Hungarians.

“We sincerely hope — and hoping does not equal meddling in internal affairs — that the makeup of the new parliament in Kiev will allow for the two countries to significantly improve their relations,” the Minister said.

The Minister said that hopefully Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would have enough leeway to support the improvement of bilateral relations. He said Budapest has a plan for normalizing the two countries’ ties, adding, at the same time, that the Ukrainian government’s cooperation was also needed in order for it to work.

Once the Transcarpathian Hungarian community regains its rights and the Ukrainian authorities “end the intimidation” of ethnic Hungarians, the two countries can get back to pursuing close economic cooperation, he said, adding that the Hungarian government has approved a 50 million euro tied aid package for Ukraine for infrastructure developments.

Minister Szijjártó promised that Hungary would immediately lift its veto of Ukraine’s NATO accession once “the provocations against Transcarpathian Hungarians end and the community has its rights restored”.

Minister Szijjártó added that Hungary wants the Ukrainian government to view the Transcarpathian Hungarian community as an asset that strengthens Ukraine and advances the normalization of Hungarian-Ukrainian relations.

The Minister said the current state of bilateral ties was bad for Ukraine because it did not have Hungary’s backing in its European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations and bad for Hungary because “we don’t like to be on bad terms with our neighbors.” He said the situation was also hurting Transcarpathian Hungarians by having to endure intimidation and the violation of their rights.

Minister Szijjártó said the better their (Transcarpathian Hungarians) lives were, the more they could contribute to Ukraine’s success. He noted that in recent years, the Hungarian government had disbursed 13.5 billion HUF to 23,000 Transcarpathian SMEs within the framework of its economic development scheme geared towards the region, resulting in developments worth a total of 18 billion HUF.

The Minister also noted that when the Ukrainian governor of Transcarpathia/Kárpátalja had notified Hungary of shortages in vaccines or the chemicals used in water purification, Hungary had sent immediate assistance.

Photo credit: hirado.hu