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Hungarian FM says long way to go before Orban-Zelensky meeting

by Rachel Amran and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 30, 2024 4:51 PM 2 min read
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba (R) and Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto meet on Dec. 11, 2023. (Peter Szijjarto / Facebook)
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There is a long road ahead before a meeting between Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky can take place, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said during a briefing on Jan. 30, as reported by Reuters.

The announcement comes only a day after Szijjarto met with his Ukrainian counterpart in Uzhhorod to prepare for a potential meeting between Zelensky and Orban. Hungary reportedly presented conditions to Ukraine that would create a "clean slate" between the two countries and pave the way for the two heads of state to officially meet.

During a press conference immediately following a meeting between Szijjarto and other Ukrainian officials, Szijjarto said that Budapest laid out an 11-point request to Ukraine regarding the rights of national minorities.

Budapest has repeatedly accused Kyiv of oppressing the rights of Hungarian minorities that live in the western regions of Ukraine, near the border between the two countries, which Kyiv denies.

According to the minister, Hungary wants to return the rights its minority had before 2015. The list includes the restoration of the status of a national school, the ability to take a high school diploma in Hungarian, and the ability to use Hungarian in public life.

Hungary and Ukraine have had a contentious relationship that has worsened since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion. Orban has maintained close ties with Russia, bucking the united front that the EU has tried to present in support of Ukraine.

Orban has opposed the launch of Ukraine's EU accession negotiations and blocked the passage of a 50 billion euro ($54 billion) aid package for Ukraine in December. EU leaders are set to meet on Feb. 1 to vote on the package again.

Hungarian official: Deal with EU on Ukraine aid still far off
The positions of Hungary and the European Commission on 50 billion euros ($54 billion) for Ukraine remain far apart, making a potential agreement uncertain, the Telex news portal reported on Jan. 18, citing Hungarian government official Gergely Gulyas.
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