Former Ukrainian Foreign Minister: creating an image of Hungary playing to the Russians extremely dangerous

March 17. 2023. – 12:28 PM


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In a lengthy interview with Hungarian paper Válasz Online, former Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin says the reasons for the deterioration of Hungarian-Ukrainian relations lie not in Transcarpathia but in Budapest. According to Klimkin, Russia wants to destroy Ukraine and Putin is quite clear about this.

"With its current demographics, Russia is going nowhere, and it will take 5-10 years at most to realise this obsession. As I see it, Putin wanted to consolidate his own regime and Russia as a geopolitical player. He was wrong," he said. According to Klimkin, Putin underestimated Ukraine and the Ukrainians and was wrong about the West.

When asked about Hungary, he said

it was "a fundamental failure which should be admitted that since 1991, independent Ukraine has not paid sufficient attention to the needs of Ukrainians of Hungarian origin.

Transcarpathia's economic model was based on money sent home from the EU and smuggling, even though it is one of the best regions in Ukraine."

But when Hungary started to issue passports in a completely non-transparent way, it was increasingly seen as a threat in Kyiv and Hungarian identity became a matter of suspicion. Meanwhile, Hungarian passport holders are fighting and dying in Donbas. It is time to find a new definition of Ukrainian patriotism," he said.

Asked whether things have deteriorated much in Hungarian-Ukrainian relations since the 2017 education law, Pavlo Klimkin said that a "negative perception vortex has developed" around the law. It was not at all intended to diminish Hungarian self-awareness. On the contrary, we wanted to give the Hungarians an opportunity. Yet there was a feeling that we wanted to make them more Ukrainian," he said.

The former foreign minister also said that Ukraine had no interest in weakening the Hungarian community, "we just want to teach the Ukrainian language and history". "There's no need to read Don Quixote in Ukrainian or to learn physics in Ukrainian," he said. He said Hungarian policy on this is a losing one, because there are fewer and fewer Hungarians in Ukraine, Slovakia and Romania. "The Hungarian space is shrinking," Klimkin said, and added that

the Hungarian and Ukrainian sides should sit down for dialogue during the war. "For example, about Hungarian funds sent to Transcarpathia and the transparency of passport issuance. And I don't mean reducing Hungarian activity, because we are also interested in Hungarian investments".

According to him, the roots of the hostile statements lie elsewhere, not with the Hungarians in Transcarpathia, but with Hungary. "There is a growing perception in Ukraine that Hungary is partly playing for the Russians," he said.

It is extremely dangerous that the image of Hungary playing for the Russians is being created, because it must not seem as if we were enemies.

- Klimkin said.

Telex has reported about Hungarians from Transcarpathia several times. We wrote about how they see themselves in this situation, why many have volunteered, and what their life on the frontline is like.

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