The Hungarian government will continue to protect the rights of ethnic Hungarian communities, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó told a plenary session of the Forum of Hungarian Lawmakers from the Carpathian Basin (KMKF) in Budapest. “We will not sacrifice the rights of Hungarian communities on the altar of any geopolitical interest, despite any pressure even from a good friend”, Szijjártó said. Concerning Ukraine, Szijjártó said that the government would not give up its position to thwart NATO-Ukraine summits and decline to support Ukraine’s EU or NATO integration as long as the Ukrainian government maintains its “anti-Hungarian” policy, “not even under pressure from any great or strong friend”. The Ukrainian government’s measures concerning the local community of some 150,000 ethnic Hungarians is against European values and international regulations, Szijjártó said and warned that planned measures under which the community would be divided up among three different administrative districts could create an even more difficult situation.
Szijjártó said that the Hungarian government’s foreign policy would “continue to focus on central Europe with special regard to the Carpathian Basin. He insisted that the region has now become “the engine of Europe’s economic growth” and that political alliance between its countries was unprecedentedly close. He added that the Hungarian government’s strategy to build friendly ties with its neighbours concerning “practical and pragmatic issues” has improved conditions for ethnic Hungarians.
Economic cooperation between Hungary and other countries in the Carpathian Basin has increased dynamically in the past decade, with a 61% increase in foreign trade, which has created “such economic interdependence which necessitates closer cooperation in other areas of life, too,” Szijjártó said.
According to Szijjártó, the government’s economic programme to promote ethnic Hungarian businesses helped some 37,000 small and medium-size ventures in the past three years to grants totalling 60.8 billion forints (EUR 192.4m), prompting investment amounting to 108 billion forints. He said that the programme would continue in 2019, with a combined budget of 38.5 billion forints in Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. With the exception of Ukraine, leaders in each neighbouring country could be convinced that they should not “be hostile” towards the Hungarian government’s programme, Szijjártó said, adding that “despite stormy conditions” Hungary would continue its programme also in Ukraine with a budget of 5.2 billion forints.