Ukraine accuses Hungary of blackmailing EU, while Hungary asks Ukraine to respect minority rights

Vsevolod Chentsov, ledaer of Ukraine's EU mission. (MTI/EPA/Stephanie Lecocq)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

The war of words between Hungary and Ukraine continues to rage. Just yesterday, a Ukrainian official accused Hungary of blackmailing the EU in an interview with the Polish press, while Hungary’s foreign minister slammed the country’s treatment of ethnic Hungarians living in western Ukraine, many of whom are now being actively conscripted for the war.

During an interview with Polish news portal Do Rzeczy, Ukraine’s EU representative Vsevolod Chentsov said Hungary is blackmailing the European Union with regard to military aid to his country.

“Hungary cannot blackmail the entire EU, the EU will find a way to help Kyiv,” Chentsov said. “Hungary, like all EU member states, defends its own interests, but often to the detriment of others, such as Ukraine.”

He added that by blocking €18 billion in aid to the Ukrainians, the EU has effectively become “a hostage to Hungary.”

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Referring to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Chentsov said that “if he (Orbán) crosses certain red lines, he will isolate himself completely.”

In response, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said the situation of ethnic Hungarians has deteriorated despite Ukraine’s EU candidate status. He said Hungary had expected that the situation of the Hungarian communities in Ukraine would improve during the negotiations on Ukraine’s candidacy for EU membership.

Hungary’s foreign minister noted that this would be a logical, correct, and regular procedure, but this is not what is happening. During a meeting of the EU’s foreign ministers in Brussels, he stated that the minority rules adopted in December create an even worse situation, which, together with substantial legal attacks, is cause for serious concern.

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The minister said that the original laws still in force in 2015 should be reinstated, and called the inability to establish Hungarian-language schools unacceptable. Since 2015, a raft of Ukrainian laws have not only curtailed the rights of Hungarians but also other ethnic and cultural groups living in Ukraine.

“The concentrated attacks against Hungarians and anti-Hungarian actions make it very difficult to make decisions in the coming period that require Hungary to make sacrifices in order to support Ukraine,” he said.

“Therefore, we expect Ukraine to respect the rights of the Hungarian national community, and we expect the European Union to act in this matter,” he added.

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