Hungary has protested the decision of the western Ukrainian town of Munkács (Mukachevo) to remove a historic monument celebrating 1,000 years of Hungarian presence in the Carpathian Basin.
“Today’s decision of the Executive Committee of the Munkács City Council to remove the millennium Turul statue, the symbol of the city restored to its original form in 2008, from Munkács Castle, is deeply shocking and outrageous,” said János Árpád Potápi, minister of state for national policy of the Prime Minister’s Office, in a statement sent to daily Magyar Nemzet.
“It is even more shocking that the statue was removed in record time, in the afternoon,” he added.
“It is regrettable that in the middle of a war, the leadership of the city of Mukachevo is prioritizing the demolition of a monument that is a prominent symbol of local and Transcarpathian Hungarian identity, while Hungary is carrying out the largest humanitarian aid operation in its history to help war refugees in Ukraine.”
“This move, at a time of armed aggression in Ukraine, is extremely ill-considered and untimely and could work against the stability of multi-ethnic Transcarpathia,” he added. “Hungary has been helping Ukraine as a good neighbor since the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war and has taken in nearly 1 million Ukrainian refugees,” concluded the statement.
The Turul statue of the Munkács Castle was erected in 1896 as one of the seven millennium monuments, celebrating 1,000 years of Hungarian presence in the Carpathian Basin. The Czechoslovakian authorities dismantled it in 1924, and the Red Army, which occupied the region in 1945, melted down the bronze statue.
A copy of the statue, destroyed in 1945, was made by the sculptor Mihály Belény and replaced the original in 2008, entirely funded by Hungarian-American businessman Imre Pákh.