Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: Supporting ethnic Hungarians a key focus of govt’s foreign policy

Supporting ethnic Hungarian communities beyond the border must remain a key focus of Hungary's foreign policy, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said after talks with the OSCE's national minorities chief on Thursday.

Hungary’s government sees ethnic Hungarians as assets and links between Hungary and its neighbours, Szijjarto told a press conference held jointly with OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Kairat Abdrakhmanov.

The minister said that though the rights of national minorities were defined by international law, those guarantees were not always enforced everywhere.

Hungary has not had any serious conflicts with Croatia and Slovenia when it comes to their treatment of the Hungarian minority, Szijjarto said, 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.

Szijjarto 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, Szijjarto 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.

Hungary therefore believes it can rightfully expect Ukraine to guarantee the rights of the local Hungarian community, he said.

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.

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