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Hungary is continuing to work towards resolving the issue of the Hungarian minority’s rights in Transcarpathia, including the right to use their mother tongue and have access to Hungarian education, the foreign minister said, after online talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba. Hungary and Ukraine are in agreement that Transcarpathia should be “a success story” for both countries and this gives hope for finding a common solution, Péter Szijjártó told an online press conference. Hungary will, however, continue to block NATO-Ukraine Council meetings until a solution is found for restoring minority rights, he said. He said there was hope that under Ukraine’s ongoing public administration reform, a district could be set up in Berehove (Beregszász) where Hungarians form a majority.
Meanwhile, Szijjártó said that they discussed the coronavirus epidemic in detail and underlined the importance of cooperation as neighbours. He noted that Ukraine has introduced strict border control allowing entry only for cars and pedestrians as of this weekend. He said Ukraine thanked Hungary for ensuring transit for Ukrainian citizens seeking to return home from western Europe. Hungary will keep this option open as long as travellers obey rules and Ukrainian authorities keep the flow going, the foreign minister said, adding that keeping the flow of freight transport was also important.
Economic cooperation was also discussed, Szijjártó said, noting the extension of Hungary’s 50 million euro tied-aid credit line for Transcarpathia’s infrastructure development by twelve months. Progress has also been made on opening a new border crossing between Nagyhódos and Velyka Palad (Nagypalád), he said. As regards further projects, Szijjártó noted the upgrade of the border bridge at Záhony and extending motorway M3 to the border. He said they approved three intergovernmental agreements that cover the use of renewable energy, epidemic cooperation and the reciprocal acceptance of diplomas and scientific degrees.
Szijjártó welcomed Russia’s agreement to continue supplying gas to central Europe via Ukraine under a pact it reached with that country. He added, however, this did not mean that alternative supply routes would not be sought, and related options will be discussed at an online conference to be hosted by Sofia later in the day.