Hungarian Conservative

Hungarian President Meets Ukrainian Counterpart

In addition to meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv alongside other European leaders, Katalin Novák spent the weekend visiting ethnic Hungarian settlements in Transcarpathia.

The Grain from Ukraine Initiative

Along with the prime ministers of Poland, Belgium, and Lithuania, Hungarian President Katalin Novák attended the Grain from Ukraine summit in Kyiv on Saturday at the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. According to Reuters, the summit coincided with Ukraine’s annual commemoration of the Holodomor, the Stalin-era famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the winter of 1932–1933, and it was announced that Ukraine and its partners are launching a scheme to export grain worth $150 million from Ukraine to nations most at risk from famine and drought, such as Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen.

President Novák travelled to Kyiv by train, and met with President Zelensky, expressing the Hungarian nation’s solidarity with Ukraine. Katalin Novák has thus become the highest-ranking Hungarian state to visit the Ukrainian capital since Zelensky entered office.

Hungarians are always there for those in need, Novák said at the joint press conference concluding the summit. ‘When it comes to accepting more than a million Ukrainian refugees, we Hungarians are there to provide humanitarian aid,’ she said, ‘but also when it comes to sending or giving medical supplies via the national Hungary Helps humanitarian aid programme.’ She cautioned that protecting the food supply chain and supporting the free flow of goods was a life-or-death decision rather than a dry free trade or market economy problem. According to Novák, Hungary will pay for the shipment of 10,000 tonnes of grain to Africa, valued at $3.5 million, as part of the recently established programme.

The president used the occasion to also draw attention to the fact that the Ukrainian minority in Hungary is in a better situation than the ethnic Hungarian community in Transcarpathia, Ukraine. She recalled that every national minority has a representative in the Hungarian parliament in order to guarantee their broad autonomy and political representation.

‘There is no doubt about who is to blame for this war: Vladimir Putin,’ she declared. The President also highlighted that in the hope that ‘while 2022 was the year of war, 2023 will be the year of peace,’ ‘we Hungarians have stood up against needless bloodshed, pain, and suffering from the very beginning.’

The President in Transcarpathia

On Sunday, Katalin Novák travelled to Transcarpathia.

She referred to the number of Hungarians residing in Hungary, the surrounding nations, and the diaspora when she made the statement at the Berehove (Beregszász) Reformed church, saying, ‘Fifteen million Hungarians are here with me in spirit.’ She said it was an honour to light the first candle of the Advent wreath together with Transcarpathian Hungarians. In her remarks she reassured her fellow Hungarians present at the service: ‘We are united, and we will be together, no matter how hard life is in Transcarpathia, no matter how hard and stressful it is to be Hungarian. All refugees are treated as guests in Hungary, and they can stay as long as they need to.’

Later on Sunday, Novák attended the opening of a school in the village of Csepe (Chepa), where ethnic Hungarian children are taught folk music and dance, to preserve and promote their ethnic identity. ‘In order for even the smallest children to absorb the richness of our shared culture and pass it on to their own offspring’, she continued, ‘we need this place.’ Transcarpathian Hungarians are aware of what it takes to strive and survive, the President said, but she added: ‘It is not just about survival; it is about life.’ She emphasized that ‘this institution is evidence that there is and will be a Hungarian future here, in Transcarpathia.’

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In addition to meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv alongside other European leaders, Katalin Novák spent the weekend visiting ethnic Hungarian settlements in Transcarpathia.