Participants in a panel discussion at the “Tusványos” Summer University in Băile Tușnad, Romania, said that the war in Ukraine hinders the settlement of issues around Europe’s indigenous ethnic minorities. They added, however, that resolving the conflict could bring positive developments, and said that ensuring the rights of ethnic minorities should be addressed at peace talks and Ukraine’s talks on EU accession.
Balázs Hidvéghi, MEP of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz, said “Europe has been in arrears with guaranteeing the rights of indigenous minorities, while several EU members are trying to overlook the subject”. According to Hidvéghi, EU members with large ethnic communities are “afraid of the subject” and the European Commission “refuses to settle the issue saying that it has no power to do so, while when it comes to other kinds of minorities they have a preference to intercede in national competencies”. He said it was important that minorities should be represented by organisations “trusted by the given country, and which are not considered a hazard”. For example, he said that Romania’s ethnic Hungarian politicians had had “great achievements in promoting the interests of the Hungarian community”. Referring to Ukraine, Hidvéghi said “it is difficult to talk about protection for minorities” because that country has “strong endeavours to assimilate” its minorities, and insisted that Ukraine had “adopted a law which equals denying the Hungarian and Romanian minorities the right to education in their mother tongue”. Hungary and Romania should act together and demand codification of those rights, the MEP added.