NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced on 21 March that after four years, the NATO-Ukraine Commission will be convened again, despite Hungary’s objection. Stoltenberg said the NATO-Ukraine Commission‘s ministerial level meeting will be held next month.
No NATO–Ukraine meetings has been convened for years as a result of Budapest’s resistance. The last meeting was held in Kyiv in 2019, just before Russia‘s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in response to Stoltenberg’s announcement that there is enormous pressure on the Hungarian government regarding Ukraine’s NATO integration ‘from both sides of the Atlantic to give up the protection of the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia, but this will not happen under any circumstances.’ He reiterated that Ukraine’s national minorities, including the Hungarian community, have been practically deprived of their rights in the neighbouring country since 2015. The minister also stressed that the education law adopted in 2020 practically prevents the Hungarian ethnic minority in Transcarpathia from learning in the their mother tongue.
‘I have the right to convene the Commission. Due to the problems raised by Hungary, I have not convened the NATO-Ukraine Commission meetings for a while, but from now things will be different,’ the NATO Secretary General said. He added that the meeting will take place during the NATO Foreign Ministers’ meeting on 4–5 April in Brussels and that this will not be a one-time event. Stoltenberg also said that Hungary’s concerns will be discussed.
According to Péter Szijjártó, convening the ministerial level meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission ‘violates the unity of NATO and the procedures for a unified will, nonetheless we cannot do anything other than take note of the Secretary General’s decision.’ The minister declared that Hungary will not support any substantial integration until the rights of the Hungarian national community in Ukraine are restored.