NewsUkraine and Hungary take steps toward reconciliation: A meeting between Zelensky and Orban is on the horizon

Ukraine and Hungary take steps toward reconciliation: A meeting between Zelensky and Orban is on the horizon

Ukraine and Hungary take steps toward reconciliation: A meeting between Zelensky and Orban is on the horizon
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1:44 PM EST, January 29, 2024, updated: 4:40 AM EST, March 7, 2024

The discussions with Szijjarto occurred Monday in Uzhhorod in the Transcarpathian region adjoining Hungary. The two countries have tense relations due to Budapest's allegations of Ukraine infringing upon the rights of Hungary's minority population in Ukraine. Hungary has been blocking EU aid for Ukraine for the past two years as the latter continues to resist a powerhouse Russian invasion.

"Both parties have expressed interest in orchestrating a meeting between the Hungarian Prime Minister and the Ukrainian President. Without a doubt, we are collectively aiming for the success of this meeting and hope to usher in a new phase in our relationship," said Yermak after the discussions.

Creation of a Special Committee

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba disclosed that the Ukrainian party requested a "comprehensive list of issues" from the Hungarian side. These are issues that Budapest believes should be resolved about the rights of the Hungarian minority. Kuleba revealed that they had received this list from a Ukrainian portal, European Pravda.

"Under the patronage of the foreign ministry, we agree to assemble a special committee with a straightforward mandate: to provide, within ten days, the issues that need to be resolved from this list and those that have already been sorted. This way, we will have total clarity," Kuleba emphasized.

Szijjarto stated that the objective of his visit was to restore amicable relations with Ukraine. He recalled, "Starting in 2017, Ukraine passed laws that limited the rights of the Hungarian minority. In December (2023), the parliament in Kyiv repealed this law. However, we appeal for restoring the rights of the Hungarian minority similar to what they possessed until 2015. We ask for nothing beyond that." Szijjarto was quoted by state-operated news agency Ukrinform.

The Ukraine and Hungary Dispute

The disagreement between Hungary and Ukraine dates back to at least the fall of 2017, when the Ukrainian parliament enacted a new education law. Budapest contends that it infringes upon the rights of the Hungarian minority in Ukrainian Transcarpathia by restraining the right to mother tongue education. Due to this disagreement, Hungary has continuously blocked meetings of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at the highest level.

In December, the Parliament in Kyiv adopted a new law on national minorities, which complied with the Council of Europe regulations. Despite this, representatives from Budapest claimed the changes were inadequate.

Neither Orban nor Szijjarto have visited Kyiv since the onset of the Russian invasion, despite Zelensky's invitation to the head of the Hungarian government during a meeting last year in Brussels.

Szijjarto first met with Kuleba in Brussels after the Russian invasion in December, just before the commencement of Kyiv's EU accession talks. Though Budapest opposed these talks, Orban did not block them at the EU summit. Instead, he vetoed EU aid worth 50 billion Euros for Ukraine. This matter will be revisited at an extraordinary EU summit on Thursday in Brussels.

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