Ukraine is taking “unprecedentedly hateful and premeditated” action against national minorities, the Ukrainian President and parliament are stripping national minorities of their acquired rights step by step, while positioning themselves as victims of geopolitics and adhering to international law in an international campaign of lies”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared.
“The ‘first strike’ against minority rights was the Education Act, in which they significantly restricted the rights of national minorities to receive education in their native language, and despite international pressure Ukraine continues to refuse to begin negotiations on the issue with minority representatives”, the Minister recalled.
Mr. Szijjártó said the “second strike” was declaring the Language Act to be unconstitutional, with relation to which he indicated that there are currently three pieces of draft legislation on a possible new Language Act before Ukraine’s parliament and “each one is worse than the next”. As an example, he cited the fact that minority languages can currently be used if the ratio of ethnic language speakers in a community is 10 percent, but this lower limit would be raised to 33 percent, which would dramatically restrict the rights of national minorities.
According to the Minister, the “third strike” is the fact that the Ukrainian President has asked Parliament to accelerate the adoption of legislation on the sanctioning of dual nationality.
“While Ukraine is striving to join NATO at the earliest opportunity, it is attempting to ensure that if someone is also a citizen of another NATO member state then they should be stripped of their Ukrainian citizenship, because it claims dual nationals represent a risk to national security”, Mr. Szijjártó said.
“We reject in the strongest possible terms the claim that a single Hungarian living in the Carpathian Basin represents a risk to national security”, the Minister declared.
He also spoke about the fact that while Ukraine is fighting in the east in the interests of maintaining its territorial integrity, it is also redeploying 800-1000 military personnel to the western part of the country, where it has borders with three NATO member states, when of course no NATO member states represents a national security risk to Ukraine.
“Hungary supported Ukraine’s request for visa-free travel as well as the association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union, and sent the country natural gas when it was in need”, the Minister highlighted.
He also pointed out that Hungary is under significant international pressure to retract its veto of further NATO-Ukraine negotiations, and Hungary views this international pressure as unfair in view of the fact that Ukraine is responsible for the situation that has arisen.
“Hungary will not bow to international pressure and sacrifice the rights of the Hungarian people living in Ukraine on the altar of geopolitical interests”, the Foreign Minister said.
“Hungary will continue to veto Ukraine’s accession to NATO until it restores the rights that were previously afforded to national minorities. If Hungary were to bow to pressure and ‘forego’ the veto it would remain without instruments with which to protect the rights of Hungarians living in Ukraine”, he said.
The Minister explained that Ukraine could have the veto withdrawn if it restored the previously acquired rights of Transcarpathian Hungarians. He also pointed out that he will be stating the same thing at Friday’s meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.
In response to an article in the Financial Times according to which in future the distribution of EU funding will be dependent on countries adhering to fundamental EU values, the Minister said: “It is dangerous to portray cohesion funding as humanitarian aid and introduce new conditions for receiving them”.
“It is a lie that development funding is given to the countries of Central Europe as a donation, since that funding is regulated by the European treaties”, he declared, adding that: “The countries of Central Europe fulfilled their part of the agreement by opening their economies to Western European countries, who have realised huge profits on this market. As a result, the Central European countries have earned the right to development funding according to the treaties”.
“Prescribing additional conditions is what would be at odds with European values”, Mr. Szijjártó pointed out, adding: “The inclusion of subjective conditions that lack any kind of objectivity can in no way be justified”.