Hungarian diplomats have advised their political leaders to use NATO as a platform for settling scores with Kyiv, and also attempted to prevent Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko from attending the alliance’s summit, Ukraine’s ambassador to NATO Vadym Prystaiko told Glavcom news outlet in an interview.
“A critical juncture has been reached. They really tried to keep the Ukrainian president away from the NATO summit. We will not forget this,” Prystaiko said, adding that Poroshenko had the opportunity to meet with alliance members alongside Georgian representatives.
As the diplomat recalled, on June 22 a meeting took place between the foreign ministers of Ukraine and Hungary, Pavlo Klimkin and Péter Szijjártó respectively, as well as Ukrainian Minister of Education and Science Liliya Hrynevych and Hungarian Minister of Human Capacities Miklós Kásler. At the meeting, the parties agreed that the next meeting between the Zakarpattia Hungarian community and the Ukrainian Ministry of Education would take place on July 11-12, and that the Verkhovna Rada would soon consider the government’s suggestions to postpone the implementation of the new law on education. Furthermore, they agreed that in autumn, MPs would be able to receive a bill on secondary education, in order to resolve the issue surrounding the amount of languages learned.
“Virtually all negotiation participants agreed to this, but only three days after this meeting, all NATO members received a letter from Hungary stating that Ukraine had gone to the negotiations empty-handed, which meant that the blocking of Ukraine’s participation in the NATO summit would continue. They pretend the negotiations are progressing, but keep the letters drafted in advance that there is no progress,” Prystaiko observed. He added that the discussion on the law on education could be carried out professionally and diplomatically, without “taking NATO hostages”.
The fact that the Hungarians did not block the session in the Ukraine-Georgia-NATO format is a certain step forwards by Budapest, Prystaiko admitted. The head of Ukraine’s mission to NATO also expressed hope that the conflict would go no further than the attempts to prevent Ukraine from participating in the summit.
On September 28, 2017, Ukraine introduced a new law on the language of education. In response to the law, Hungary promised to impede all attempts by Ukraine to integrate with the EU. In the last year, Hungary has already blocked sessions of the Ukraine-NATO Commission on three occasions.
In June, Hungary backed down from its ultimatum to Ukraine, and no longer demands that Kyiv immediately revoke its current version of the language norms in the law on education.