The Szekler flag – Photo: wikipedia

Ministerial commissioner: Ethnic Hungarians in focus of Hungarian diplomacy

Hungarians live as "indigenous minorities" in several countries, and "one of the pillars" of Hungary's diplomacy is to ensure the protection of ethnic minorities, a government official told a conference on Tuesday, noting that its efforts in this area operated at a European level too.

Ferenc Kalmar, special ministerial commissioner for Hungary’s neighbourhood policy development, told the conference marking Council of Europe Day.

Kalmar said it was regrettable that no progress had been made for the cause of ethnic minorities worldwide. “The Russia-Ukraine war has further escalated that situation, and in many countries ethnic minorities are now considered a security risk … It is not minorities that pose a risk, however, but a lack of democratic rights: where minorities feel safe there are no problems.”

Peter Sztaray, state secretary at the foreign ministry, said ensuring protection for minorities was an international responsibility, adding that “promoting the right of ethnic minorities to their national identity is crucial for preserving diversity and peace in Europe”.

While Hungary urges collective rights for ethnic Hungarian communities, it has already granted those rights to the country’s 13 ethnic minorities, Sztaray noted. Ethnic communities in Hungary, some 6.5 percent of the total population, are an asset to the country, he added.

Sztaray praised Croatia, Slovenia, and Serbia for granting ethnic Hungarians collective rights in education, and called cooperation with those countries concerning minorities as exemplary. He criticised Ukraine, however, for curbing ethnic Hungarians’ rights.

The Hungarian government will not support Ukraine’s EU and NATO aspirations as long as the country “fails to grant ethnic Hungarians the rights they were stripped of in 2015,” he added.

Zsolt Nemeth, the head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said “Russia has seriously thwarted the cause of minority protection by trying to use minority policy issues as an excuse to attack Ukraine”. The war situation has demonstrated that “minorities often fall victim to power politics, he said, “though it would be important to speak about minorities without topical political interests, and build protection systems for them.”


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