Hungary proposes to Ukraine signing an accord on the protection of national minorities, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Wednesday.
“Confidence between the two countries needs to be rebuilt,” the minister told MTI in Warsaw, where he held talks with his Ukrainian partner Pavlo Klimkin on the sidelines of a security forum. According to the proposal, both governments would refrain from pursuing any policy that could lead to the assimilation of a national community or change the ethnic composition in any single region. Further, it would secure national minorities their language rights in the areas of education, religion, culture and administration.
Szijjarto said Ukraine promised to study the proposal. Hopefully, at the next meeting in Milan on December 7, a bilateral discussion of the proposal will ensue based on merit, he added. It is clear that “rebuilding confidence requires several small steps to be taken,” he said. It has been a positive development that a signature drive initiating the deportation of ethnic Hungarians from Transcarpathia has been removed from the Ukrainian parliament’s website, he added.
“We consider it a very positive sign that Ukraine has taken it seriously that this issue is completely unsuitable to Europe in the 21st century,” he said. He added that Klimkin has recently expressed agreement with the view that “it would not be an exaggeration” to describe the petition as “disgusting.” He said it was also a positive development that the Ukrainian authorities had launched an investigation regarding the appearance of “billboards with misleading information about ethnic Hungarian leaders.”
Under a new agreement, the Ukrainian government will appoint an official in charge of cross-border cooperation, Szijjarto said. Hungarian deputy foreign minister Levente Magyar and the newly appointed Ukrainian official will meet as soon as possible in order to pave the way for the smooth continuation of an economic programme for Transcarpathia, he added.
In order to restore trust, Szijjarto told Klimkin that Budapest was ready to activate a 50 million dollar credit line to finance road building in Transcarpathia. Hungary is also ready to continue a scheme offering camps for children from families who had been affected by the fights in eastern Ukraine. Szijjarto said he had informed Klimkin that Hungary would continue to offer one hundred scholarships annually to Ukrainian students in Hungarian universities. “It is in Hungary’s interest that the conflict which has developed should be resolved as soon as possible,” Szijjarto said.
Szijjarto urges fast-track EU integration of Western Balkans
Hungary urges that the European Union integration process of countries in the Western Balkans should be sped up radically, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told a roundtable organised on the sidelines of forum. Szijjarto noted unresolved historical tensions between nations of the region, and insisted that they could only be settled through “novel approaches such as new forms of integration”.
Szijjarto urged that all chapters in the accession talks of Serbia and Montenegro should be opened up and also pointed to little progress in negotiations between the EU and Albania. He suggested that the European Commission should encourage applicant countries through giving positive feedback rather than “incessantly complaining about Russia and other factors hindering European integration”. The enlargement of the EU in the Western Balkans is a security issue for Europe, Szijjarto said.
Source and photo: MTI