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May 10, 2018

The EU is putting the rights of migrants ahead of the Hungarian minority living in western Ukraine, says foreign minister

The foreign minister said it appeared that migrants were more important to Brussels than Hungarians in Ukraine

Hungary’s foreign minister has accused the European Union of putting the rights of migrants ahead of the Hungarian minority living in western Ukraine.

The minster made the remarks following a meeting with the head of the Transcarpathian Hungarian Cultural Association (KMKSZ), László Brenzovics, on Wednesday.

Péter Szijjártó, minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said Hungary is forced to engage in a constant debate with Brussels over which human rights of migrants should be respected, while in Transcarpathia there are 150,000 Hungarians whose fundamental right is to live in their own home in safety and use their own language.

The foreign minister said it appeared that migrants were more important to Brussels than Hungarians in Ukraine.

He added that the situation regarding laws violating the rights of Ukraine’s Hungarian minority had worsened in recent days. Rather than comply with the decisions of the various international forums, the Ukrainian government has introduced initiatives that have made the situation worse, he said.

The minister noted that despite the Venice Commission’s decision issued last year that Ukraine should consult its national minorities on its new education law banning post-primary-level education in minority languages, the government had not held a single consultation with KMKSZ.

Minister Szijjártó said that though Ukraine now wants to postpone the law’s enactment until 2023, this was not enough for Hungary.

“We expect Ukraine not to introduce the law until 2023 and in the meantime to reach an agreement with minorities,” he said. Hungary also wants private schools to be excluded from the law’s jurisdiction, he added.

Minister Szijjártó said Ukraine could easily meet these expectations, and if it did, Hungary would lift its veto of the country’s NATO accession.

According to MTI, the minister said Hungary was also concerned about a Ukrainian bill that would strip dual citizens of their Ukrainian citizenship.

The minister confirmed that Hungary is constantly seeking dialogue with Ukraine and pointed out that next week he will meet with his Ukrainian counterpart on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers.