U.S. now siding more with Hungary in dispute over Ukraine's education law – Hungarian journalists

19:55, 03 February 2019
Politics
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Hungary's Viktor Orban spoke about Ukraine as a "buffer state" / Photo from news.church.ua

"In recent years, U.S. diplomacy has repeatedly criticized the Hungarian government for its position on the Ukraine. Due to the Ukraine's new education law, which is detrimental to the Hungarian minority in Transcarpathia, [Viktor] Orban's government started to block high-level Ukraine-NATO talks in autumn 2017. The situation has somewhat changed by now, the diplomatic cable reveals, as the U.S. is now siding more with Hungary on this topic," Direkt36, a non-profit investigative journalism center in Hungary, reported.

"In the case of Ukraine, the American side now agrees with the Hungarian position regarding Ukraine's nationalist attitude and the dangerous precedent its education law could set," Direkt36 quotes a Hungarian diplomatic cable it obtained.

Read alsoHungarian envoy notes positive shifts in relations with Ukraine

The cable was sent to Budapest by the Hungarian Ambassador to Washington DC, Laszlo Szabo, after a meeting held between Hungary's Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Levente Magyar and Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs on December 18, 2018.

According to the Hungarian journalists, this document gives insight into Hungarian-American relations and shows how U.S. diplomacy is trying to put pressure on Hungary's government on issues important to Washington.

Mitchell reportedly admitted that "Hungarian objections over Ukraine's education law concerning minorities are legitimate, and the U.S. is constantly raising this to the Ukrainian side." Mitchell said that he was hoping that the Ukrainian government would will concede soon. A senior official from the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade also told Direkt36 that in recent months, Ukrainians seemed more constructive in their negotiations with Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.

However, Hungarian and U.S. diplomacy is very far from complete agreement over the status of Ukraine. Mitchell complained to Magyar that Viktor Orban had spoken about Ukraine as a "buffer state" in his speech in Baile Tusnad (Tusnadfurdo).

According to Mitchell, he believes that it is also in Hungary's "fundamental interest" that Ukraine becomes a part of the West, and that Ukraine could be a case study that "a small nation-state can establish political independence against Russia."

Hungary has been blocking meetings on Ukraine's cooperation with the EU and NATO over a new education law, which entered into force in Ukraine on September 28, 2017.

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