Foreign Policy Research Institute

+38 (044) 287 52 58

Foreign Policy Research Institute

tel. +38 (044) 287 52 58

Visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba to Hungary: search for compromises or surrender of Ukrainian positions?

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba paid a foreign visit to Hungary and met with the Minister of External Economy and Foreign Affairs of Hungary, Péter Szijjártó. The parties noted their mutual interest in developing friendly and good-neighborly relations, as well as their readiness to open a new page in bilateral partnership. The Ministers paid special attention to cooperation in combating the spread of COVID-19. As co-chairs of the Ukrainian - Hungarian intergovernmental economic commission, the officials called for the early resumption of its work and agreed that it should play a leading role in promoting trade and economic cooperation between the states. "There is no objective reason for any significant problems to exist between us. We expect that Hungary's full support for Ukraine in NATO will be restored" Kuleba said.

The Ministers discussed specific opportunities to increase Ukraine's investments in Hungary and Hungary's investments in Ukraine, and to help strengthen their positions in the markets of both states. Special attention was paid to the development of border infrastructure, the modernization of the Chop-Zagon checkpoint and the construction of a new Diyda – Beregdaróc checkpoint.[1] Kuleba and Szijjártó also signed a number of documents, in particular the Protocol between the Government of Ukraine and the Government of Hungary on the amendment to the Framework Agreement between the Government of Ukraine and the Government of Hungary on providing a tied aid credit and a Memorandum of Understanding between the State Agency on Energy Efficiency and Energy saving of Ukraine and Ministry for Innovations and Technology of Hungary.[2]

At the end of the meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, Péter Szijjártó spoke about the conditions under which Hungary will lift its veto in NATO against Ukraine. In particular, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary, Péter Szijjártó said that the decision on Ukraine in NATO blocks not only educational legislation, but also the law on language. "Hungary is waiting for the solution of problems with the issue of education and the law on the use of the state language.  After that we will not block what we block in connection with NATO," the Hungarian official said. "We don't want to keep the block, our goal is to reach agreements. We want to close all discussions related to the law on education and language, and we want to reach a solution that will be acceptable to Hungarians in Transcarpathia. I hope that we will forget it, and it will become a thing of the past," Szijjártó explained.[3]  Based on such statements by the Hungarian official, it was not a matter of compromise. This is the language of an ultimatum, which Hungary has been using to Ukraine for several years in a row putting pressure on the most painful issues: sometimes it flirts with Russia against the background of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, sometimes it blocks relations with NATO, an organization that has nothing common with solving humanitarian language issues, and especially in the sphere of bilateral relations that are not within the competence of the Alliance. As noted by P. Szijjártó, official Budapest is only interested in what is considered interesting for Hungarians, not for Ukrainians. In other words, a compromise is possible only on the terms of Hungary, and in no other way. But this is not a compromise. This is direct interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine. It is a pity that Mr. Kuleba did not notice this during negotiations with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary.

During his visit to Budapest, he said that Kyiv and Budapest are determined to find joint solutions. "The visit obviously showed an important change – Budapest and Kyiv are not attuned to confrontation, but on finding a joint solution without crossing the red lines of both states. The process of convergence of positions is taking place, it is not easy, but it is worth it,” the Minister said.[4]

It did not take long to start the process. A week later, the Ministry for Communities and Territories Development of Ukraine published a zoning map of Ukrainian regions. For example, there will be 5 such enlarged districts in Transcarpathia (previously there were 13). The appearance of the Beregovsky district, which was not mentioned earlier in this new zoning scheme, became a surprise to both the public and the expert community. It is worrying that the majority of the population in this district will be Hungarian, and it actually runs over the border with Hungary. Thus, the emergence of separate "ethnic" districts can start the process of creation of such administrative units throughout Ukraine. This is not only wrong, but also dangerous for Ukraine. If some people can blackmail us and eventually get what they want, then soon other neighbors will try to use us as a doormat.[5]

Reacting to such criticism, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba commented on rumors about "Kyiv's concessions to Budapest" on the issue of Transcarpathia: "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports the protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, but does not hold negotiations with any state on the creation of "national" districts or county. Beregovsky district has existed happily for a long time and has the right to continue its existence. So far, we are only talking about joining the Vinogradovsky district to it as part of the reform," the diplomat said. According to him, the decision on the accession of this district was not made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but the Department supports the administrative and territorial reform. "Diplomats are working on the normalization of relations with Hungary, because it meets the strategic interests of Ukraine, in particular the interests of our Euro-Atlantic integration, and Central Europe as a whole," he added.[6] 

Therefore, Dmytro Kuleba's visit to Hungary showed that Ukraine is trying to find compromises with the Hungarian side on disputed issues. Actually, the meeting of the two Ministers on the future meeting of Zelensky and Orbán was agreed, where it is planned to sign a Memorandum on security and historical heritage, and the language issue will be also discussed. An interesting point in this meeting was the speech of Péter Szijjártó, in which he outlined the conditions for lifting the veto from NATO, which in fact remain ultimatum, since Hungary demands unilateral concessions only from the Ukrainian side and does not intend to concede. And a rather strange combination of circumstances after Kuleba's visit were new zoning projects for Ukrainian regions, including the preservation of the Beregovsky district.


[1]Розраховуємо, що буде відновлена підтримка Угорщиною України в НАТО, – Кулеба:

[2]Кулеба і Сійярто підписали низку документів у Будапешті:

[3]Ми бажаємо досягти такого рішення, яке буде прийнятним для угорців на Закарпатті — Сійярто:

[4]Київ і Будапешт налаштовані не на конфронтацію, а на пошук спільних рішень, – Кулеба:

[5]Планують створити «угорський» район: влада України пішла на поступки Будапешту:

[6]Кулеба прокоментував чутки щодо "поступок Києва Будапешту" з питання Закарпаття: