Gergely Gulyas – Photo: MTI

Gulyas: Hungary ‘doing everything possible’ to help people of Transcarpathia

Hungary has been "doing everything possible" to help the people of Transcarpathia, Gergely Gulyas, the head of the Prime Minister's Office, said in Satoraljaujhely, in eastern Hungary, on Wednesday, adding that "each Hungarian bears responsibility for each and every Hungarian regardless of where they live in the world."

Gulyas told students and their teachers from Transcapathia staying in the town that Hungary condemned Russian and aggression continued to do so, adding that Hungary is providing humanitarian aid to Transcarpathia, in western Ukraine, and elsewhere in the country.

Also, the country is providing financial support for the running of the Ukrainian state, as well as taking in refugees or allowing them to pass through Hungarian territory, he noted.

Gulyas praised Ukraine’s “heroic struggle” to defend its territory, adding that it was in Hungary’s interest that Hungarians living in Transcarpathia should suffer as little as possible, so Hungary has refused to deliver weapons as doing so would endanger the people of Transcarpathia by making them a target.

Szijjarto: Government calls for protection of Ukraine Hungarians’ rights

The Hungarian government has appealed to international institutions to ensure the protection of the rights of ethnic Hungarians in Transcarpathia, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in Strasbourg on Wednesday.

“This is a burning issue as a recent Ukrainian law will in fact eliminate ethnic minority schools in that country,” the foreign ministry quoted Szijjarto as saying. The Ukrainian legislation, passed late last year, “further aggravates the situation of the Hungarian national community, that is why action was needed to be initiated at international institutions even if the (Hungarian) government had temporarily frozen the issue of (Ukraine’s) curbing minority rights,” the statement said.

“We want to and we will protect the rights of ethnic Hungarian communities at all places in the world,” Szijjarto said.

Ukraine currently has 99 ethnic Hungarian primary and secondary schools, but under the new law they will become state schools as of September 1, “with some level of access” to Hungarian education, Szijjarto said. From grade four on, the ratio of classes held in Hungarian could be gradually decreased to 40 percent, while entry and final examinations as well as vocational training in Hungarian will be eliminated altogether, the document quoted Szijjarto as saying.

Szijjarto welcomed that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe would refer the issue to the Venice Commission at the initiative of Hungary and Romania, and added that the body would come up with a position by June. “We sincerely hope that the international community, the European Union, and other international organisations will make Ukraine enforce the Venice Commission’s position just as they did on several occasions with regard to pieces of Hungarian legislation,” he said.

“Hungary stands by Ukraine… but we expect Ukraine to restore the rights of the ethnic Hungarian minority with regard to the use of their mother tongue,” Szijjarto said, adding that “we do not ask for any rights to Transcarpathia Hungarians they did not have earlier”. “We want to restore the situation that had existed until 2015, when those rights were first curbed,” he added.

He also added that fighting for the rights of ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine was a top priority for Hungarian diplomacy. Ukraine has “violated and curbed the rights of ethnic Hungarians gradually” in a process that “fundamentally determined” bilateral ties in the past 7-8 years, Szijjarto said.

Earlier in the day, the Hungarian foreign minister met the head of the European Court of Human Rights, and top officials of the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe and of its Parliamentary Assembly.

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