The road to rebuild trust with Ukraine will be a long one, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said after a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, on Monday.
According to a statement issued by Hungary’s foreign ministry, Szijjarto made the remarks at a joint press conference with Kuleba and Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian president’s office, in Uzhhorod, the administrative center of the western Ukrainian region Transcarpathia.
He emphasized the continuous erosion of the rights of the Hungarian minority since 2015, an issue he said has strained bilateral relations in recent years.
He welcomed the Ukrainian parliament’s legislation adopted in December last year as a crucial step in halting this negative spiral. However, he said that Hungary expects the rights of the Hungarian minority in Transcarpathia before 2015 should be restored.
Ukraine’s parliament adopted a draft law on national minorities on Dec. 8 last year. The bill allows the use of European Union languages and languages of national minorities in political advertising, private schools, and universities, student groups consisting of national minorities, and the media.
A bilateral intergovernmental committee has been tasked with drafting concrete proposals to be presented to both foreign ministries.
“We came here with the goal to rebuild a climate of trust in our bilateral relations. We have made encouraging steps towards this direction,” he said, adding that “we still have a long road ahead of us, a lot of work needs to be done.”
Ukraine’s presidential office said after the meeting that Kiev and Budapest have moved towards organizing a meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Reaffirmed Hungary’s consistent support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, Szijjarto also said, “We must multiply our efforts so that people in Ukraine can finally live in peace.”
According to Szijjarto, Hungary has received over a million refugees from Ukraine since 2022. Currently, 5,224 Ukrainian children are attending 1,558 Hungarian schools and kindergartens. Its humanitarian aid has reached more than half a million families in 20 Ukrainian counties.
However, the ministry’s statement did not shed any light on the issue of Ukraine’s 50-billion-euro aid from the European Union (EU), which Hungary vetoed in December. The fund will be the focus of the upcoming EU summit later this week.