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US urges Hungary not to meddle in Ukraine’s engagement with NATO

The bad blood between neighbors Hungary and Ukraine is causing tension in the US and other European states. USA on Thursday requested Hungary not to interfere in Kiev’s engagement with NATO.

The two neighbors have an acrimonious relation, which turned worse with the introduction of the new Ukrainian education law in 2017. Hungary alleges the law will take away the educational rights of the ethnic minority in Ukraine. The law states that the official language of education is Ukrainian, and minority languages are allowed only in the first four grades of primary education.

However, the Venice Commission promised to stall the passing of the law until 2023. Ukraine intends to arrange for a vote on extending the interim period of the new law.

As a retaliation to this, Hungary has tried to flex its muscle, by threatening to rupture Ukraine’s efforts in choosing alliance with NATO and the European Union. Hungary, which has been a member of NATO since 1999, is using its clout to intimidate Kiev that if things go wrong for the Hungarian minority, things will go downhill between NATO and Ukraine too.

David Cornstein, America’s ambassador in Budapest, has said that Hungary should work to “prioritize alliances” since Russia could pose threat to Ukraine and Europe. The ambassador was referring to Hungary’s closeness to Russia due to business ties for oil, gas and nuclear expertise.

“Now more than ever, Russia is testing the West,” Cornstein said in a statement.

Urging Budapest not to meddle in Kiev’s efforts to draw ties with NATO, the ambassador said, “We feel strongly … that as NATO allies the best way to promote reforms in Ukraine is by talking to Ukraine, not by blocking Ukrainian engagement with NATO.”

NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg told Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Thursday that NATO plans to deliver secure communication equipment to Ukraine’s military by December.

Talking about Russia, Cornstein said, “Putin is not interested in national sovereignty. His vision is neoimperial. If Ukraine fails, Hungary will be on the front line of Russian aggression.”

A friendly relation between Ukraine and Hungary will prove beneficial for both the nations.

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