Hungary-Ukraine. looking back to Moscow and Transcarpathia (part 1)

Author : Bens Capchos Ivan Medynsky

Source : 112 Ukraine

Budapest seeks to find the new ways to support Hungarian businesses in Transcarpathian region
16:25, 22 April 2016

Read the original text at Eurointegration.

Back in the 1990s Budapest formulated three main objectives of the strategy of foreign policy, which remains unchanged for years: Euro-Atlantic integration of the country; support and protection of Hungarians living outside the country; establishing friendly relations with neighboring countries.

Compared with other neighbors, Ukraine-Hungary relations are the most balanced, and Transcarpathia region has low ethnic tensions and sufficient guarantees of minority rights.

The situation gradually changed in the years after the Orange Revolution and the Hungarian issue attracted national attention.

Hungary community, which is only 0.3% of population, has become much more visible. Disputes and local quarrels gained national importance.

Joint efforts of President of Hungary Laszlo Solyom and President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko in 2007 to erect a memorial in Verets'ki pass (which has a special place in the history of the Hungarian people) became a turning point in this context, because the debate on this issue drew public attention.

The number of small incidents and complaints about the respect of minority (Hungarian community) increased (the use of the Hungarian language in education or change the boundaries of electoral districts that divided Hungarian community).

The frequency of conflict between Budapest and Kyiv increased proportionally.

2010 was a milestone in bilateral relations, because that is when the new government formed by the party "Fidesz" gradually began to review foreign policy of Hungary. In light of the new policy, pragmatic economic relations and cooperation with Russia (especially in the energy sector) have acquired special significance.

This turn was the decisive factor in the Ukrainian-Hungarian relations, which today cannot be considered separately from Budapest ties with Moscow.

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After the Revolution of dignity, the relations between the two countries entered a new phase. Unfortunately, it is difficult to say that the situation has changed for the better. Budapest recognized the new Ukrainian government and condemned the annexation of Crimea, stressing the need to preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

However, both government and opposition parties accepted Hungary events in Ukraine as evidence of the strengthening of far-right political parties and nationalist sentiment.

The idea to abolish the law on state language policy, proposed in February 2014, was seen in Budapest as alarming. The parties reached a boiling point when Prime Minister Viktor Orban in his inauguration speech in May 2014 suggested that the Transcarpathian Hungarians should receive collective rights and autonomy, and they also need the dual citizenship.

Transcarpathian factor

Given the developments in Crimea and Donbas, Hungary’s ideas to expand collective rights and citizenship of Hungarians in Transcarpathia became sensitive issues for Kyiv.

However, the Hungarian minority implicitly identifies itself as part of the Ukrainian state and shows no desire for political autonomy.

Related: Ukraine’s disarmament after signing Budapest Memorandum was pointless, - Turchynov

The desire to maintain and protect ethnic Hungarians living abroad, and maintain intellectual and spiritual unity of the nation is the cornerstone of the foreign policy of the Hungarian government after the return of "Fidesz" to power in 2010. Later it found expression in the new constitution of 2011.

The main objective was to promote the preservation and development of the Hungarian community in their native lands by providing financial support for education, culture and infrastructure projects, implementation of economic development programs.

The aspirations for autonomy (without violating the sovereignty of neighboring states) has received greater emphasis in the foreign policy of Budapest, which considers it the best way to ensure the safety and well-being of Hungarian communities. Another aspect is to simplify procedures for Hungarian passports Hungarians living in other countries to spread a sense of symbolic national unity.

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In terms of finance, much of the subsidy goes to education. The goal is to create opportunities for ethnic Hungarians to use their mother tongue from kindergarten to university.

In Transcarpathia Hungary supports all kinds of Hungarian educational institutions. Thus, Budapest finances Transcarpathian Hungarian Institute named after Ferenc Rakoczy II, nationally recognized institution of higher education located in the Ukrainian town of Berehove.

In addition, Hungary allocates substantial funds for maintenance and infrastructure of these institutions and supports direct subsidies to teachers and parents who send their children to Hungarian schools and health care workers. In 2015, Hungary organized summer holidays for about 3 thousand Transcarpathian children.

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Budapest also seeks to find new ways to support Hungarian businesses in Transcarpathian region and the local economy. Hungarian government recently announced the launch of a major program of economic development of Transcarpathia June 2016 modeled after a similar campaign last year in the Serbian Vojvodina, the volume of which amounted to about 160 million euros.

The program aims to provide financial assistance for agriculture and tourism, as well as to support the development of Hungarian SMEs in Transcarpathia.

Specific details and amount of support has not yet been approved, but we know that it comes to the allocation of 6.5 million euro grant and 65 million euros in preferential loans in 2016.

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