Following Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s speech in parliament yesterday, leading Ukrainian newspaper Pravda claims that he threatened Ukraine “again,” with Ukraine taking issue with the fact that Orbán said Hungary refuses to support Ukraine in any international forum until the country agrees to protect the rights of the ethnic Hungarian minority living in the west of Ukraine.
In his speech, Orbán stated: “I should also mention here that at the beginning of the school year, the new Ukrainian administration of the Hungarian High School in Mukachevo, Transcarpathia, banned the singing of the Hungarian national anthem and the wearing of Hungarian national colors at school events. The Ukrainians have been harassing Hungarian schools for years. They want to turn them into Ukrainian schools, and if that fails, they want to close them.”
Orbán noted that his government is fighting for the rights of ethnic Hungarians in the Transcarpathia region, including in international forums. In turn, Orbán said Hungary has little incentive to support Ukraine until the issue is remedied.
“We will not support Ukraine on any issue in the international arena until it reinstates the previous laws that guaranteed the rights of Hungarians in Transcarpathia,” said Orbán, a clear reference to Ukraine’s NATO and EU membership ambition.
In response, Pravda wrote in an article that “Orbán threatened Ukraine again because of the rights of the Hungarian minority.”
Much of the international press also took issue with various elements of Orbán’s speech, which also addressed the topics of mass immigration, Sweden’s NATO membership bid, and various battles with Brussels over issues such as Hungary’s ongoing subsidy to help pay the energy bills of its citizens.
Orbán stated during his speech, “I wonder if there is something urgent that would force us to ratify Sweden’s NATO bid. I cannot see any such circumstance.”
Sweden’s NATO bid is on hold until Hungary and Turkey ratify it, and while Turkey has signaled it will do so, Hungary has indicated it has little reason to rush the issue given the anti-Hungarian position of the Swedish government, which continues even under the country’s center-right coalition government.