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Kuleba to meet Hungarian foreign minister for first time since invasion's start

by Martin Fornusek December 11, 2023 12:34 PM 3 min read
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks to a journalist in Kyiv on Aug. 16, 2023. (Roman Pilipey/AFP via Getty Images)
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Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will meet his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto in person for the first time since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion, European Pravda reported on Dec. 11.

Relations between Budapest and Kyiv have been increasingly strained as Hungary blocks EU aid for Ukraine and sanctions against Russia.

Hungarian leaders have also spoken out against the launch of EU membership talks with Ukraine during the European Council summit later this week.

"Today, I will meet Hungary's foreign minister. This will be our first face-to-face meeting since the beginning of the full-scale invasion," Kuleba said ahead of the EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.

"And I think this fact speaks for itself: We continue to talk with Hungary."

One of the key points of dispute between the two countries centers around Ukraine's 2017 language law that requires at least 70% of education above fifth grade to be conducted in Ukrainian.

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Hungary claimed that the law discriminates against the Hungarian ethnic minority in Ukraine. Kyiv responded that it does not intend to crack down on its minorities, only to ensure that every Ukrainian citizen has sufficient knowledge of Ukraine's official language.

Reforms to national minorities legislative were also listed among the seven membership criteria presented to Kyiv by Brussels. Ukraine has made two updates to the law based on recommendations of the Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe.

"As I've already mentioned, Ukraine changed its legislation on education and language use by national minorities in a way that Hungary wanted," Kuleba commented.

Hungary has been broadly labeled as the most Kremlin-friendly EU country, and Szijjarto has traveled to Russia five times since the start of the full-scale invasion.

As the European Council summit commences on Dec. 14, Ukrainian and Western officials seek to sway Budapest away from blocking the start of Ukraine's membership talks.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky held a brief conversation with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during the inauguration of the Argentinian president, and the head of Zelensky's office, Andriy Yermak, called Szijjarto last week.

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President Volodymyr Zelensky will travel to the U.S. on Dec. 11, where he will meet with U.S. President Joe Biden the following day, the two leaders’ offices announced, as U.S. funding for Ukraine is rapidly running out and further aid is being held up in Congress by Republican opposition.
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