Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said that his country will not back Ukraine on any issue in international affairs until Kyiv restores the rights of ethnic Hungarians living in Ukraine. Orban made the statement in the Hungarian parliament on Monday, after he blocked a planned €18 billion loan from the European Union to Ukraine last week.
Orban accused Ukraine of violating the rights of about 150,000 ethnic Hungarians, who mainly reside in the Zakarpattia region bordering Hungary. He said that a law passed by Ukraine in 2017, which restricts the use of minority languages in schools, was an attack on the Hungarian community. He also demanded that Ukraine grant dual citizenship and autonomy to ethnic Hungarians.
Ukraine has rejected Orban’s demands and accused him of interfering in its internal affairs. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Hungary was “playing into the hands of Russia” and that its actions were “unacceptable and irresponsible”. He also said that Ukraine would not change its language law or grant any special status to ethnic Hungarians.
The dispute between Hungary and Ukraine has added to the tensions in the region, where Russia has launched a massive offensive against Ukrainian forces, targeting civilian areas and infrastructure. Ukraine says it has destroyed dozens of Russian drones and missiles, but also suffered heavy casualties and damage. The EU and the US have expressed their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and have imposed new sanctions on Russia. However, they have also called for a diplomatic solution to end the conflict.