Ukraine is ready to reach an agreement with Hungary on meeting EU requirements for the protection of the rights of national minorities, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine Olga Stefanishyna told a press conference in Kyiv on Thursday.
She vowed to guarantee the rights of the ethnic Hungarian minority living in modern-day Ukraine, but rejected claims that Hungarians were particularly affected by the ongoing Russian aggression in the country.
“The Hungarian minority has suffered much less than, say, the Greek minority in the Azov region,” she noted.
The Ukrainian minister said that Hungary reserves the right to arbitrarily block Ukraine’s EU accession process, but stated that she did not believe the Hungarian problem should be the main obstacle in the EU enlargement process.
“I am confident that we will be able to overcome this challenge. I am confident that we will find political understanding,” she stressed.
Hungary has been at odds with Ukraine for years mainly on account of the erosion of rights for its 100,000-strong ethnic Hungarian minority there, mainly based in the Transcarpathia region. Besides nationalist threats against Hungarians, there have also been reports that Ukraine conscripts ethnic Hungarians above their ratio in the overall population.
Stefanishyna noted that a dialogue is ongoing with the EU on how Ukraine is preparing to improve the protection of the Hungarian community in Ukraine. The Ukrainian delegation presented a detailed roadmap to Hungary in September, which included both practical steps, such as the provision of textbooks for Hungarian-speaking children, and plans for legislative amendments.
Asked whether Ukraine had any “red lines” for legislative changes, the deputy prime minister said that these amendments must “in no way affect knowledge of the Ukrainian language.”