Last week, we urged supporters to respond to an article that was published December 26, in the Washington Post, entitled “For Ukraine, Hungary’s Orban is another problematic strongman nextdoor.” The article contains numerous inaccuracies, misrepresentations and omissions regarding the Hungarian national minority in Ukraine.
Read below the published letters submitted to the Editor:
My October to November visit to Hungary was spiked with debates about Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Ukraine that exuded more heat than the hot paprika in my gulyas. Here are some facts that opened my eyes and that were missing from the Dec. 31 news article “Viktor Orban: Ukraine’s other problematic strongman neighbor”:
First, Hungary’s aid to Transcarpathia, such as infrastructure and health-care projects, benefits the region’s entire population and all its ethnicities, including ethnic Ukrainians. Second, the Ukrainian constitution does not forbid dual nationality. Many Ukrainians are dual citizens of other countries. Next, there are international human rights instruments that guarantee the use of a minority’s national symbols. Mukachevo Mayor Andriy Baloha is incorrect when he says “there should be only Ukrainian symbols.” The turul monument the authorities in Mukachevo dismantled is a cultural symbol for the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia, not its “past.” The act of dismantling it politicizes culture. Finally, according to the latest official 2001 Ukrainian census, the Hungarian minority is 150,000, not 130,000. Since 2015, the government has been reversing the language and education rights the Hungarian minority has had since 1991. Just last month, the Ukrainian parliament passed a Law on National Minorities that implements new restrictions. The approximately 410,000 Romanian-speaking minority in Ukraine is similarly disturbed by the potential loss of its rights. The Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry expressed its disapproval of the new law.
There’s nothing like the whole truth to help keep a cool head.
Beata Kovacs Nas, Herndon
It was very useful to bring up the treatment of the Hungarian minorities in connection with the war in Ukraine, because we know President Biden cares about human rights, and we also know if he mentions the need for resolving this issue to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, local autonomy would shortly be guaranteed to Ukraine’s loyal national minorities.
Ukraine would benefit from the grateful support of its national minorities. The Hungarian government could no longer claim that its support for the premature peace talks proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin or its anti-American and anti-European Union rhetoric is motivated by caring about the rights of its compatriots.
The aggression by a war criminal must not be rewarded, because even the appearance of success would seem like a repetition of the 1938 appeasement of Adolf Hitler, which we know did not bring “peace in our time.”
Béla Lipták, Stamford, Conn.
This is far too complex an issue, but the crux of the matter still is whether Transcarpathian lands have historically been Ukrainian. The article quoted the mayor of Mukachevo as saying “Transcarpathia is Ukrainian land — it was, is and will be.”
It wouldn’t have been taking sides to point out that since the establishment of the Kingdom of Hungary in the late ninth century, this area belonged to the Hungarian Crown. In 1920, the Treaty of Trianon gave this area to Czechoslovakia. In 1945, Joseph Stalin annexed it to the Soviet Union and it became part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
History many times is written by the victors, but there still are some actual facts.
Robert Hardi, Bethesda