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May 21, 2019

Hungarian and Ukrainian presidents discuss minority issues

President Áder suggested that the two countries should set up a bilateral commission to sort out all contentious issues in a “relaxed atmosphere”

The issue of minority rights – and language rights in particular – was in focus at a meeting between Hungarian President János Áder and Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

According to Rmx.news, President Áder – attending the inauguration of Zelenskiy in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev – suggested that the two countries should set up a bilateral commission to sort out all contentious issues in a “relaxed atmosphere”, a proposal welcomed by the Ukrainian President.

“It is in our best interest to have a good relationship with Ukraine, Hungary’s neighbour with the largest population. (…) but I also made it clear that what the (ethnic) Hungarians living in (the Ukrainian region of) Subcarpathia only ask that Ukraine respects the commitments written in its constitution and international treaties,” Áder said after the meeting.

Recently Ukraine passed a language law relegating all minority languages to churches and private homes, in effect forbidding teaching in languages other than Ukrainian. This concerns Hungary because there are over 100,000 ethnic Hungarians living in the Subcarpathia region adjacent to Hungary.

President Áder also said that Ukrainian minorities now have less rights than they had during the Soviet era and that this state of affairs is unacceptable. He also said Zelenskiy – whom he invited to Budapest – was “receptive and open” to the Hungarian requests.

Photo credit: MTI