In a most recent move against the local Hungarian minority, the national flags of Hungary were taken down from the public buildings in a number of settlements including the Transcarpathian town of Munkács (Mukachevo). Police were also ordered to the scene to supervise the removal of the banners. The leaders of Hungarian-language educational institutions in Fornos and Dercen were reportedly instructed by their superiors in Munkács to take the Hungarian national flag down from the schools’ buildings. The reason cited was that apparently there is a now regulation in place that mandates that public buildings can only fly the Ukrainian flag.
Police officers, according to local residents, keep checking that the Hungarian flags are not put up again. When some of the schools refused to voluntarily remove their flags, the authorities did so.
The Transcarpathian Hungarian news website Kárpátalja claims that because the Munkács Regional Council never accepted any decree that would mandate taking down the flags, it must have been created at the local level and is in contravention of higher-level laws. The website underlined that up until this point, Ukrainian regulations did not forbid the use of national symbols, and that until now, the Hungarian flags, which were flown in peaceful coexistence alongside the Ukrainian flag, have never been objected to by the local majority population and were not in breach of any laws.
In addition to the flag removal, the employment of some teachers affiliated with the Subcarpathian Hungarian Cultural Association (KMKSZ) was also terminated in the Munkács subregion.
Hungarian Reaction to the Incident
‘We do not exactly understand how anti-Hungarian decisions and measures help Ukraine in the war against Russia,’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs State Secretary Tamás Menczer wrote in a message shared on his Facebook page on Thursday. Menczer added: ‘We condemn what happened,’ stressing however that ‘the unacceptable events’ have so far only occurred in the Munkács sub-region and not the entirety of Transcarpathia. He also voiced his hope that ‘such anti-Hungarian measures elsewhere’ would not be occur.
Tamás Menczer also wrote: ‘We demand that the local authorities put an immediate stop to the anti-Hungarian atrocities. We urge Ukraine’s national leaders to take prompt action to revoke the anti-Hungarian decisions restore the former state of affairs,’ he added.
Menczer noted that the Hungarian government expects the Ukrainian authorities to make every effort to maintain the peace in Transcarpathia despite the conflict. The state secretary highlighted that the ‘continuous and systematic harassment and deprivation of rights of a national community is unacceptable if Ukraine wants to be a member of the European Union.’