Hungary's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó says that Hungary would gladly return to a position supporting Ukraine if Kyiv guarantees that the Education Act is not brought into force before 2023 and is tangibly amended.
"Ukraine must guarantee that the Act, which grossly infringes on the rights of minorities, is not introduced in any form until that time, and during this period it performs the required consultations with the Hungarian minority and implements what is agreed upon at those negotiations," Hungary's Ministry of Foreign Affairs quoted the minister as saying. "In addition, a legal guarantee is required with relation to all this, because despite several verbal promises, things have regularly occurred in an opposite direction."
According to him, Hungary and the European Union expect Ukraine to implement the recommendations of the Venice Commission, to consult with national minorities and to take the ban on removing existing rights seriously. "So negotiations with the Hungarian national community must begin and the implementation of the Ukrainian Education Act must be suspended," he highlighted.
With relation to the Minority Language Act, Szijjártó said raising the ratio of a national community required for the use of a minority language from 10% to 33% was unacceptable.
At a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on March 19, Szijjártó also recalled that Hungary had been one of the strongest supporters of two of Ukraine's most sensitive goals, visa liberalisation and the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. "With relation to Ukraine, Hungary has no other instruments at its disposal than to block Kyiv's international, European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations," he said. "Accordingly, Hungary is also not supporting the holding of the EU-Ukraine defense ministers' meeting planned for April, or the NATO-Ukraine summit scheduled for this summer. Hungary will only be supporting these meetings if Ukraine adheres to the abovementioned conditions and to its international obligations," he said.
He also pointed out that Hungary is one of three EU countries, including Poland and Slovakia, that is supplying natural gas to Ukraine following the dispute between Russian energy company Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz.
He also expressed concern over the fact that Ukraine is planning to redeploy a battalion of some eight hundred to a thousand soldiers from the east to the city of Berehove (Beregszász), which is close to three NATO member states and home to the largest ratio of Hungarians.
He added that even more worrying is the reason given by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, according to which the measure is necessary in view of threats to Ukraine's territorial integrity. "This means that Kyiv regards the Hungarian national community as a threat factor, which is outrageous, and is something that Hungary rejects in the strongest possible terms," he said.