Laszlo Kover – Photo: MTI

Kover: Entire Hungarian nation behind Transcarpathian Hungarians

Ukrainian politicians must know that the entire Hungarian nation is behind the Transcarpathian Hungarian community, and the Hungarian state will not give up protecting their interests despite any pressure, Speaker of Parliament Laszlo Kover said in Budapest on Friday.

In his opening address to the Forum of Hungarian Lawmakers from the Carpathian Basin (KMKF), Kover said there were no separate issues that pertained to just Hungarians living beyond the borders or those within, only a unified Hungarian nation and unified Hungarian issues.

Kover emphasised that the issue of Transcarpathian Hungarians was not merely a minority issue, but an existential issue in the strictest sense of the word, just as that of the native minority communities, which make up more than a tenth of the European population, was not only a moral issue, but one of realpolitik. What is happening today to European national minorities can happen tomorrow to the majority nations as well, Kover said.

He also pointed out that after the conclusion of the war in Ukraine, it would not be possible to rebuild the European security policy architecture without a fair settlement of the issue of national rights. In the absence of this, any new European security concept is “built only on sand”, he said.

Kover argued that the war in Ukraine did not begin with the first Russian gunshot in February last year, but when leading Russian politicians questioned the independence of the Ukrainian nation, the existence of an independent Ukrainian language and culture, openly expressing the idea that what claims to be Ukraine must be Russified. At the same time, the speaker posed the question of what happens if the victim also questions the ethnic reality of others and tries to restrict and eliminate it.

He said the Ukrainian state had been acting restrictively towards its ethnic minorities since 2015, long before the war began. It started disputing their rights to their identity, their mother tongue and culture, and effectively started to try to Ukrainise them.

What is happening in Ukraine today, Kover said, proved that the policy of ethnic dominance does not make a state stronger or more stable, but rather more vulnerable.

The position of Hungary’s policy for national communities is that ensuring a European-level, principled and democratic solution to the national problems in Europe — especially for the integration process of the Balkan states — is not only a measure of taking human rights seriously but also a vital security policy interest, Kover said. Violations against national identity sooner or later result in political destabilisation, while the principled and legal protection of national identity strengthens political stability and security, he emphasised.

At its Friday meeting KMKF adopted a position to express solidarity with ethnic Hungarians in Transcarpathia.

In the document, participants voiced their “firm conviction that no form of violence could contribute to the resolution of international disputes or handling tensions between ethnic communities”.

KMKF welcomes Hungarian communities’ contribution to the humanitarian assistance provided to help those impacted by the war, the document said. The body condemns the military aggression against Ukraine and will support “any step aimed at an early peace agreement”.

“A sovereign and democratic Ukraine ensuring a livelihood to its citizens including indigenous ethnic minorities, where the existence of ethnic Hungarians is not threatened and their language and cultural heritage are not questioned but recognised as a European asset is in the interest of the Hungarian nation,” the statement said.

Signatories to the document noted Ukraine’s aspirations to become a member of the European Union, adding that protection for ethnic minorities was a fundamental value of the community. Honouring community and minority rights is a “cornerstone of democracy and rule of law”, they said, adding that appropriate protection to ethnic minorities and taking those communities for partners was a “number one precondition” for EU accession.

KMKF “follows Ukraine’s path to Europe with sympathy and definite expectations” and adopts the Hungarian government’s position that Ukraine’s endeavours to join NATO can only be supported if that country restores the Hungarian minority’s pre-2015 rights, the document said.

Leave a Reply