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Hungary continues to block Ukraine-NATO talks despite supporting Kyiv’s NATO bid

Hungary will continue to block NATO resolutions onUkraine unless the government in Kyiv commits to protecting the rights of ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine’s Zakarpattia region, István Íjgyártó, the Hungarian ambassador to NATO has said.

Speaking in an interview with Glavkom, Mr Íjgyártó stressed that Hungary was not blocking Ukraine’s integration into NATO. “We block only one forum, this is the political level – the Ukraine-NATO Council. And we will block it further,” he said, adding that the reason why Hungary blocks Ukraine-related joint declarations is that the Alliance is not only a military organisation.

“If you want to become a member of NATO, you must have an obligation to respect human rights,” he noted, pointing to Ukraine’s education law that makes the use of the Ukrainian language compulsory for all citizens, amongst others, in the education system, endangering the education of the nearly 150,000 ethnic Hungarians in northwestern Ukraine.

“I want to emphasize that all this does not in any way interfere with Ukraine’s military and administrative integration into NATO,” the ambassador emphasised, arguing that the Hungarian government’s stance on Ukraine has nothing to do with its Russia policy.

Simultaneously with Russian president Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Budapest, Hungary, which is one of the closest EU and NATO member states to Russia, on October 30 again blocked a NATO resolution on Ukraine. Only a day after Hungary allowed the joint resolution to pass as Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky promised to implement human rights recommendations put forward by the Venice Commission.