Gov. George Pataki Visits Hungarian Minority in Ukraine

“We Will Always Stand Up for the Hungarians of Subcarpathia” 

Washington, DC – Gov. George Pataki strongly condemned the Ukrainian government’s violations of the rights of the Hungarian minority, on a visit to Subcarpathia with the Hungarian American Coalition on March 9-10. 

Gov. Pataki, former governor of New York, was accompanied by Coalition leaders Maximilian Teleki and Zsolt Szekeres on a visit to Beregszász (Berehove), Ukraine. They were briefed by political and religious leaders, including Dr. László Brenzovics, President of the Cultural Alliance of Hungarians in Subcarpathia and Member of the Ukrainian Parliament, on the situation of the Hungarian minority and its ongoing struggle to protect its cultural and linguistic identity.

Gov. George Pataki Visits Hungarian Minority in Ukraine​

Dr. László Brenzovics, György Kota, Gov. George Pataki, Zsolt Szekeres and Maximilian Teleki in front of the recently restored head office of the Cultural Alliance of Hungarians in Sub-Carpathia (KMKSZ) in downtown Ungvár (Uzhgorod) on March 10, 2019

On March 10, Gov. Pataki spoke to the local congregation following mass at the Hungarian Roman Catholic Church in Beregszász. He expressed concern over the rights violations carried out by the central Ukrainian government against national and ethnic minorities. “Kiev must recognize that the Hungarians of Subcarpathia are loyal citizens of Ukraine … This Hungarian minority is a strong community, and I am certain that, a hundred years from now, Hungarian will still be spoken here.” He repeated: “Hungarian Americans will stand up for the rights of the Hungarians of Subcarpathia.”

Later that day, Gov. Pataki and Mr. Teleki spoke at a press conference at the Transcarpathian Hungarian Institute. Mr. Teleki stated that the Coalition will continue to raise the plight of the Hungarian minority at the State Department, U.S. Congress and other institutions. “If Ukraine wishes to strengthen its ties to NATO and the European Union, then it must respect and maintain those values, including human and minority rights and civic freedoms.” 

The Hungarian minority in Ukraine, which numbers approximately 150,000, is threatened by recent Ukrainian laws that severely restrict existing provisions for native-language education and official use of minority languages – even though Ukraine is bound by international agreements to protect these rights and is seeking closer ties with the European Union. In the past four years, an escalating series of anti-Hungarian media campaigns and demonstrations by Ukrainian extremist organizations, incidents of vandalism and violence, and official harassment have poisoned ethnic relations in this multi-cultural region. 

Last weekend’s visit continues the Coalition’s engagement on behalf of Hungarian minority rights in Subcarpathia.

· In April 2018, the Coalition hosted a visit of Dr. Brenzovics in Washington DC, who met with U.S. officials, policymakers and academic leaders and provided first-hand information on legislative measures which violate the rights of the Hungarian national minority.

· At the Coalition’s 14th annual Gala Dinner on April 25, 2018, Dr. Brenzovics accepted the Coalition’s award on behalf of the Rakoczi Ferenc II Transcarpathian Hungarian Institute of Beregszász.

· In November 2017, Coalition President Andrea Lauer Rice participated in a 2-day trip to Beregszász and Ungvár where she met with Dr. Brenzovics, Ildiko Orosz, Rector of the Transcarpathian Hungarian Institute, and Government Commissioner István Grezsa to personally inquire about the Ukrainian Education Act and its consequences for Hungarian-language education.

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