Encouraging steps have been taken towards the restoration of the atmosphere of trust between Hungary and Ukraine, but the road is still long, and a lot of work will be needed, which our country is ready for, said Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó on Monday in Ungvár.
According to the press release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the head of the department stressed at a joint press conference following his meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmitro Kuleba, and the head of the Kyiv presidential office, Andriy Jermak, that the rights of Transcarpathian Hungarians have been continuously curtailed since 2015, which is the reason why bilateral relations in recent years have not been about good relations, but about open questions. He welcomed that the law adopted by the Ukrainian parliament in December last year “undoubtedly stopped this negative spiral”, at the same time he reiterated that the government expects the Transcarpathian Hungarians to regain their rights in 2015.
“I would like to underline here and now that Hungary is not asking for extras, we are not asking for more than what was already there. We ask that the Transcarpathian Hungarian national community get back the rights it already had in 2015,” he said.
“Accordingly, today we summarized the Hungarian requests in eleven points, including, for example, the restoration of the legal status of ethnic schools, the re-establishment of the possibility of matriculation in Hungarian and the unrestricted use of the Hungarian language in higher education, culture, public administration and community life,” he said. He also announced that a bilateral intergovernmental committee had been commissioned to try to agree on specific, text-like proposals as soon as possible, and that these would be presented to the two foreign ministries.
“We came here with the aim of rebuilding the atmosphere of trust in our bilateral relations. I think we can agree that we have taken encouraging steps in this direction. We still have a long way to go, we have to do a lot of work, but we on the Hungarian side are ready to do this work,” he said. Péter Szijjártó emphasized that our country’s position has been consistent and clear throughout the past two years. “We stand for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. We condemn the war, and we want peace in our neighborhood as soon as possible,” he emphasized.
“We must multiply our efforts so that people in Ukraine can finally live in peace. Hungary is ready to make efforts in this direction in the future as well, as we know that saving human lives is only possible through peace,” he said.
Standing next to his Ukrainian negotiators, he then reminded that since 2022, Hungary has carried out the largest humanitarian operation in its history, more than one million refugees have arrived from neighboring countries, and currently 5,224 Ukrainian children attend a total of 1,558 Hungarian schools and kindergartens. He also announced that Hungarian humanitarian assistance reached more than half a million families in twenty Ukrainian counties. For example, 14,000 Ukrainian children were provided with camping opportunities, and the government will continue to contribute to the renovation and reconstruction of hospitals, schools, and dispensaries. He also mentioned the development of cross-border infrastructure, which he said was a fruitful discussion. He pointed out that in Hungary, with an investment of 120 million euros, a logistics center was established on the border of Ukraine, and another border crossing between Nagyhódos and Nagypalád is close at hand.
They agreed on the expansion of road and rail crossings at Beregsurány and Záhony, as well as on the common goal of building a new Tisza bridge. Szijjártó also said that he had asked his Ukrainian official partner to maintain the reliable crude oil transportation route up to now, and to ensure correct operating conditions for Hungarian companies. Finally, the minister thanked Viktor Mikita, the governor of Transcarpathia, for the fact that the Hungarian and Ukrainian populations there can still live peacefully side by side, as, according to him, the “artificial attempts to create tension” could not have been handled without him.
“Hungary’s position its misinterpretation and distorted presentation (.) is a favorite sport of a certain section of the international media. And this activity can also create tensions in everyday life, not only in politics,” he said. He then recalled that a few days after the outbreak of the war, he assured Mikita that the government is ready to immediately consider all requests for help submitted by him and fulfill them as much as possible. “And in the last two years it has been like this (.) and it is still like this,” he said.