Kyiv Explains Why Government Negotiations with Hungarian Counterparts Postponed

Tuesday, 5 December 2023

The government of Ukraine initiated negotiations with Hungarian counterparts on the eve of the EU summit but postponed communication with Budapest until the final agreement on changes to laws on minority rights.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary Péter Szijjártó announced the cancelled negotiations on his Instagram. "We are ready for negotiations with Ukraine at a high (political) level... but we do not see readiness from the other side," he said.

Szijjártó said that on 1 December, he received a request for a telephone conversation "with the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine" (without specifying the name). "I said I would be very happy to talk, and a time was set, but the conversation was cancelled," Szijjártó says. Also, as the minister said, there was a conversation about his meeting with the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine (this post is held by Andrii Yermak), and "that was also cancelled."

As European Pravda learned, Kyiv initiated at least one of the conversations mentioned by the minister, but it was postponed.

The Ukrainian side claims that it is still interested in the negotiations and does not seek their cancellation, but asks to postpone the negotiations to the beginning of next week due to the final coordination of the decision on the legislation on the rights of minorities.

Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna, who is responsible for European and Euro-Atlantic integration issues, admitted that she initiated the negotiations with Szijjártó because she "wanted to inform him about the law on national minorities."

It was impossible to hold negotiations on time because the law's approval was delayed – as it is known, the government and political forces in the Verkhovna Rada are currently negotiating the final text of the draft, which should be introduced to replace the previous government draft. Despite the scheduled call, Stefanishyna could not inform the Hungarian minister about the detailed wording.

"But I assure you that we continue to seek dialogue, and I will contact Péter Szijjártó to arrange a conversation at the beginning of next week, as soon as it is clear what the parliament will vote on," the deputy prime minister explained.

European Pravda also asked the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine for a comment and is ready to publish his explanation as soon as he replies.

On 5 December, Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, said that the Verkhovna Rada would adopt amendments to the law on national minorities this week to meet the European Commission's criterion for opening accession negotiations with the EU.

Previously, certain provisions of the government law caused criticism, including from the expert community (for more details, see the article Limiting Hungarian Pressure on Ukraine: Two Concessions Kyiv Should Reject on Its Way to EU).

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