NATO sidelines Hungary, will convene Ukraine committee without Hungarian approval

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will convene the Ukraine committee, despite Hungarian objections (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

NATO ministers should not hold a meeting of the Ukraine committee until the country assures the rights of ethnic minorities living in Ukraine, including those of ethnic Hungarians living in the west of the country, said Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó.

“This decision violates NATO’s unity and the procedures for a unified will, but at the same time we cannot do anything other than take note of the secretary general’s decision,” Szijjártó said in Brussels on Tuesday.

“There is enormous pressure on the (Hungarian) government from both sides of the Atlantic to give up the protection of the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia, but this will not happen under any circumstance,” he continued.

He added that the convening of the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine committee at the ministerial level violates the unity of NATO, and Hungary will not support any meaningful integration rapprochement until the rights of the Hungarian national community in Ukraine are restored.

According to a ministry statement, the minister said this during a break in the so-called General Affairs Council of EU member states. In the morning, he had talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who confirmed that Hungary is a reliable ally that contributes to the strength of the military organization.

“Hungary contributes to the security of the European and transatlantic community, it is a reliable NATO ally. However, we also see NATO as a community of values (…) That is why we consider it important that only countries that respect the rights of national communities should be allowed to join NATO,” Szijjártó said.

“Unfortunately, this is not the case in Ukraine today. Of course, this is not a new situation. Since 2015, the rights of national communities, including the Hungarian national community, have been in effect continuously curtailed,” said Hungary’s foreign minister.

He noted that this is why the Hungarian government has continuously blocked the convening of the NATO-Ukraine Committee at the ministerial level in recent years.

Szijjártó stated that although there is a lot of pressure from the international arena for Hungary to give up the protection of the Hungarian national community in Transcarpathia, NATO’s secretary general has shown understanding on the issue and has taken this concern seriously.

“However, the secretary general has said that for various reasons, which are not for me to detail,
he will convene a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Committee at the ministerial level during the Foreign Ministers’ Council on April 5, despite the Hungarian negative position, despite the fact that we believe that such a meeting could only be convened if there is a unanimous will,” Szijjártó said.

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