Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said that supporting ethnic Hungarian communities beyond the border must remain a key focus of Hungary’s foreign policy.
Following talks with the OSCE’s national minorities chief, Kairat Abdrakhmanov, on Thursday, the foreign minister said Hungary’s government sees ethnic Hungarians as assets and links between Hungary and its neighbors. The minister said that though the rights of national minorities were defined by international law, those guarantees were not always enforced everywhere. He noted that Hungary has not had any serious conflicts with Croatia and Slovenia when it comes to their treatment of the Hungarian minority, adding that its relations with Serbia were “the best they have ever been”, which he said was also reflected in the local Hungarian community’s quality of life.
Minister Szijjártó noted that Hungary in the past had had serious conflicts with Slovakia and Romania on minority issues, but steps have been taken to resolve them in recent years. Ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine, however, “continue to face serious challenges,” he added. He said the government was aiming to resolve the situation in Ukraine as well, adding that the enforcement of minority rights was not a question of bilateral relations but an issue concerning international law. Hungary has done “everything it could” to foster good neighbourly relations with Ukraine, Minister Szijjártó said, noting that Hungary had delivered 110 ventilators to the country, organised summer camps for Ukrainian children from families affected by conflict in eastern Ukraine and financed economic development schemes in Transcarpathia. He added that Hungary therefore believes it can rightfully expect Ukraine to guarantee the rights of the local Hungarian community.
Abdrakhmanov said he was in constant talks with the Ukrainian authorities on the rights of the country’s minority communities. He said he saw signs of progress in the matter and was urging both sides to seek mutually acceptable solutions that could improve the situation of Transcarpathian Hungarians and Hungary-Ukraine relations.