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Hungarian FM says to continue blocking Ukraine's NATO integration

Staff Writer | October 26, 2018
Hungary will continue blocking Ukraine's NATO integration because of Kiev's bad treatment to Hungarian ethnic minorities on its territory, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto said in a statement on Thursday.
Peter Szijjarto
Europe   Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto
"Recent acts committed against the Hungarian minority are unacceptable for a country seeking closer cooperation with NATO," Szijjarto said, adding "The fact that Kiev did not go straight into these matters immediately is also unacceptable."

"There has been a significant deterioration in the situation regarding Ukraine, as nothing has been done on the amendment of the Education Act and the language law has also been adopted, which takes away the possibility of ethnic minorities to use their mother tongue in education, culture, media and public administration," said Szijjarto.

The relations between the two countries are frail due to two main reasons: firstly the issue of granting Hungarian citizenship to ethnic Hungarians living in Ukraine, as Ukraine does not recognize the concept of dual citizenship; and secondly, the recent adoption by the Ukrainian parliament of a language law that puts the ethnic Hungarian children in a disadvantaged position in the Ukrainian school system, according to Budapest.

Szijjarto said Budapest has informed the Secretary-General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg about the fact that a petition calling for the deportation of Hungarian minority from Ukraine was still not removed from the website of the Ukrainian President.

"Obviously, under these circumstances, we cannot contribute to the NATO-Ukraine committee meeting during the next foreign ministerial reunion," he underlined.

Szijjarto added that Hungary not only maintained its presence in the NATO missions but was also ready to increase its role.

He added that Hungary was the third largest contributor to the NATO mission in Kosovo, and that it would soon increase the number of its soldiers to over 100 in Afghanistan, while it was and would be present in Iraq in the coalition against the terrorist organization, the Islamic State.

"The 2 percent defense budget ratio will be reached before the 2024 deadline," Szijjarto said, pointing out that Hungary considered the stability of the Western Balkans as a fundamental security issue.

"Hungary supports the soonest possible integration of Macedonia to NATO, and also supports the association's activation of a membership action plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Georgia," Szijjarto noted.