Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: Ukraine’s response to Hungary requests ‘no step towards restoring minority’s 2015 rights’

Ukraine's response to Hungary's 11-point document on minority rights is not bringing closer the restoration of the Hungarian community's rights to 2015 levels, the foreign minister said on Tuesday.
5. March 2024 18:26

Speaking at a press conference held together with Mathias Cormann, the Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Szijjarto said in response to a question that he had made Hungary’s requests clear at his meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmitro Kuleba, in January. “We asked for no special tereatment, only to restore the acquired rights of [ethnic] Hungarians,” he said.

He lamented that Ukraine’s response to the document “contains no progress in that regard”.

Hungary will respond to the response on Wednesday, he said.

“Until Ukraine adopts legislation to restore the rights of Hungarian national minorities, Hungary sees no point in a highest-level meeting,” he said.

Asked about French President Emmanuel Macron’s statement that sending land troops to Ukraine “cannot be excluded”, Szijjarto said it went against NATO’s unanimous decision that direct confrontation with Russia should be avoided at all cost. “In the past two years, amending this decision. has not been tabled in any NATO meetings.”

Hungary will stick to the relevant NATO decision, he said.

Maintaining contacts only with those that share consensual positions “no achievement in diplomacy”

It is no achievement in diplomacy to limit contacts to those that share consensual positions in everything, he said.

Szijjarto was asked to comment on criticism by Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk about him having dinner with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov at last week’s Antalya Diplomatic Forum.

He said relations between Hungarians and Poles went beyond friendship and the brotherhood they shared “can tolerate the political episodes that the prime minister of Poland has produced in the past few weeks”.

“One must simply respect that we have different views about the possibility of peace in Ukraine,” he said. “We are a pro-peace government, while the government of Poland holds more of a pro-war position,” he added.

He also said that the Antalya forum was “almost like a United Nations general assembly session” and he sat at the same dinner table with the foreign ministers of six or seven countries, including Russia.

“And if one sits next to a foreign minister colleague, then they usually have a conversation,” he said. “It is among our duties as foreign ministers to maintain contacts with each other.”

Szijjarto said that if he again gets the opportunity and needs to do so, he will again hold talks with his Russian counterpart.

“The Polish prime minister would be surprised to know the long list of European politicians who have asked me in recent years to help them establish contacts with the Russians, to organise a meeting or to pass on a message,” he said.

“What’s more, occasionally even the representatives of opposing sides have asked such a favour and if I again receive that type of request, I will be certainly happy to help,” he said.

Commenting on reports about the potential election of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as NATO secretary-general, he said the Hungarian government would not be able to support the appointment of a person “who wanted to bring Hungary to its knees in the past”. “It would be very strange if the Hungarian government supported the nomination of such a person,” he added.

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