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FM demands the restoration of the rights of ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine

September 6th, 2023

Despite their ideological differences, left and right-wing columnists agree with the Foreign Minister’s protestations against measures in Ukraine curbing the rights of Hungarians.

Addressing the annual meeting of Hungarian ambassadors in Budapest on Monday, Foreign Minister Péter Szíjjártó said that ‘until Ukraine restores the rights of the Hungarian community, Hungary cannot support talks on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union’. The latest incident which caused an uproar was a decision by the headmaster of the Hungarian grammar school in Mukachevo to forbid the use of the Hungarian flag and the Hungarian anthem on the opening day of the school year. The headmaster, who doesn’t speak Hungarian, also wanted to introduce a new system whereby all subjects except Hungarian should be taught in Ukrainian in his school, but that plan has been shelved for the moment.

In Magyar Nemzet, Levente Sitkei complains about repeated attempts in Ukraine to deprive ethnic minorities of their identities and consider all of them as Ukrainians. He understands that a country at war needs a ‘glue’ to unite its population but warns that fear ‘will never do the job’. He also remarks that Hungary has helped war refugees, whether ethnic Hungarians or Ukrainians since the very beginning of the war, without asking for anything in exchange.

In Népszava, Sándor Zsigmond Papp points out that he sympathises with Ukraine in its war against Russian aggression, but nevertheless finds it unacceptable for Ukrainian officials to simply deny the ethnic identity of Hungarian schoolchildren. Under such conditions he doesn’t find it surprising for the Hungarian Foreign Ministry to warn that Hungary will not support talks about Ukraine’s accession to the European Union as long as the right of ethnic Hungarian schoolchildren to be taught in their own mother tongue is not fully respected.

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