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Media: Hungarians in Ukraine ask Orban to support launch of Ukraine's EU accession talks

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 11, 2023 10:47 PM 2 min read
Ukrainian, Hungarian and European flags displayed on the town hall of Berehove, western Ukraine, on March 7, 2022. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP via Getty Images)
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The leaders of the Hungarian community in Ukraine have written a letter, appealing to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban not to block the launch of Ukraine's EU accession talks during the upcoming European Council summit, Ukrainska Pravda reported on Dec. 11.

The media outlet said it has been sent a copy of the letter, which is also addressed to European Council President Charles Michel.

Orban claimed in November that Ukraine was "light years" away from joining the EU, despite the fact that the European Commission published its official recommendation on Nov. 8 that Ukraine was ready for talks to begin.

Hungarians in Ukraine are thought to number around 80,000, most of whom live in the western region of Zakarpattia.

"We, the representatives of the Hungarian national community of Zakarpattia, are turning to you with great hope and a request to support the decision to open negotiations on Ukraine's membership in the European Union, scheduled for December 14-15, 2023," the letter, published on Ukrainska Pravda's website, reads.

"We strongly urge all leaders of the EU member states to continue to support Ukraine on the path of European integration."

"The new draft law adopted by the Ukrainian parliament significantly reflects the interests of national minorities and enjoys our full support," the representatives said. "We believe that Ukraine deserves to be supported in its efforts in this direction."

The letter refers to amendments made to Ukraine's 2017 language law, which Budapest claims discriminates against the Hungarian community in Ukraine.

Kyiv has said 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.

Ukraine has made two updates to the law based on recommendations of the Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe.

The European Commission said in its recommendation that language laws should be further strengthened to protect minority rights in education and media, but significant progress has been made in the sphere of minority protection in Ukraine so far.

Hungarian FM: Hungary’s position on Ukraine EU accession unchanged
Hungary’s position on Ukraine’s EU accession remains unchanged, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Facebook on Dec. 11, following a meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

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