The foreign ministry is summoning Ukraine’s ambassador to Hungary over an attack against the headquarters of ethnic Hungarian cultural association KMKSZ in Ungvar (Uzhhorod), in western Ukraine’s Transcarpathia region, that saw the building set on fire, the foreign minister said on Tuesday.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, unidentified attackers broke one of the building’s windows and threw in a petrol bomb or another type of explosive, which set the building on fire, burning out most of the ground floor.
Speaking to public news channel M1, Peter Szijjarto noted that this was the second attack against the KMKSZ headquarters this month, adding that “shocking developments” were taking place in Ukraine. “Extremist political views” are gaining ground, he said.
This can be seen in the laws that have been passed by Ukraine’s parliament “which severely restrict the rights of minorities” Szijjarto said, and the “constant intimidation” of Transcarpathia Hungarians.
“All of this is unacceptable”, and if Ukraine is serious about deepening its ties with the European Union and NATO, it must be able to “keep extremists at bay”, Szijjarto said.
In addition to summoning the Ukrainian ambassador, the foreign ministry will send back the Hungarian ambassador to Kiev and the consul-general to Uzhhorod, both of whom had been in Budapest for the meeting of Hungarian ambassadors, he said.
Szijjarto said he is also scheduled to meet the OSCE high commissioner on national minorities and will request that the organisation establish a presence in Transcarpathia as well.
The Prime Minister’s Office said it will provide help with repairing the damage done to KMKSZ’s headquarters.
“The state secretariat for Hungarian communities abroad is shocked to hear of the attack carried out against the headquarters of the Transcarpathian Hungarian Cultural Association and condemns it in the strongest terms,”
Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen, state secretary for ethnic Hungarian communities abroad Arpad Janos Potapi and Istvan Grezsa, government commissioner in charge of Transcarpathia, said in a statement. The Hungarian government will provide all the help and resources needed for repairing the damage and ensuring that KMKSZ can carry on with its responsibilities of representing Transcarpathia Hungarians as quickly as possible, the statement said.
The ruling Fidesz party also condemned the attack and said the Ukrainian government and Brussels should not tolerate any more of “the intimidation of Transcarpathia Hungarians”. In a statement, Fidesz called on the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) to condemn the attack and on the European Commission to take action in defence of Transcarpathia Hungarians.
“This is an open attack against Transcarpathia Hungarians,” Fidesz communications director Balazs Hidveghi said. He said responsibility for the attacks against the KMKSZ office this month lay with the Ukrainian government’s policies of restricting minority rights and the country’s new education law, which he said had emboldened extremists.
Szijjarto discusses situation of Transcarpathia Hungarians with OSCE high commissioner
Szijjarto discussed the situation of Hungarian minorities in Ukraine with Lamberto Zannier, the OSCE’s high commissioner for national minorities, the foreign ministry said. At the talks, Szijjarto pointed out that Ukraine still has not implemented the Venice Commission’s recommendations concerning the country’s new public education law and has not started consultations with the local Hungarian community on the law’s implementation.
Szijjarto told the high commissioner that by failing to follow the Venice Commission’s recommendations, Ukraine “is severely violating international law” and ignoring the conditions laid down by the European Union. The minister called it “unacceptable” that the headquarters of the KMKSZ in Ungvar was attacked for the second time this month.
Extremist groups and views are gaining ground in Ukraine and Hungarians in Transcarpathia face constant intimidation, Szijjarto said. He underlined the importance of Hungary’s initiative for the OSCE’s special monitoring mission to Ukraine to establish a presence in Transcarpathia as well.
Source and photo: MTI