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President Novák Meets Zelensky in Kiev

Katalin Novák traveled to Kiev to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with fellow European leaders and visited ethnic Hungarian communities in Transcarpathia during the weekend.

Hungarian President Katalin Novák attended the Grain from Ukraine summit in Kiev on Saturday at the invitation of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, alongside the prime ministers of Poland, Belgium, and Lithuania. It was announced at the summit that Ukraine and its partners launch a plan to export 150 million dollars worth of grain from Ukraine to countries most vulnerable to famine and drought, such as Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen, Reuters reports, adding that the gathering coincided with Ukraine’s annual memorial day for Holodomor, the man-made Stalin-era famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the winter of 1932-33.

Those in need can always count on Hungarians, Novák told a joint press conference.

We Hungarians are there when it comes to humanitarian aid, even when it comes to taking in more than a million refugees from Ukraine.

“But also when it comes to sending or donating medical supplies through the Hungary Helps national humanitarian aid program,” she added.

“Securing the food supply chain and thus enabling the smooth flow of goods is not a dry free trade or market economy issue, but a life-or-death choice,” she warned. Novák announced that Hungary is funding the shipment of 10,000 tonnes of grain to Africa, worth 3.5 million dollars under the recently launched program.

The president took the opportunity to subtly point out that the Ukrainian minority in Hungary is in a better position than the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia, Ukraine. She reminded that in order to ensure the broad autonomy of minorities, every minority has a representative in the Hungarian parliament. “I am proud that the Ukrainian speaker is also a member of the Parliament in Budapest,” she added.

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According to Novák,

Vladimir Putin’s responsibility for this war is crystal clear.

“From the very beginning, we Hungarians have stood up against unnecessary bloodshed, pain, and suffering,” Novák said, adding that she hopes that “while 2022 was the year of war, 2023 will be the year of peace”.

Katalin Novák visited Transcarpathia on Sunday.

“Fifteen million Hungarians are here with me in spirit,” she said at the reformed church of Berehova (Beregszász), referring to the number of Hungarians living in Hungary, the neighboring countries and the diaspora. Novák said it was a privilege to light the first candle of the Advent wreath together with the Hungarians of Transcarpathia.

We are together and we will be together, no matter how difficult life is in Transcarpathia, no matter how difficult and challenging it is to be Hungarian,

she told local citizens. Novák said that Hungary welcomes all refugees as guests, “they can stay as long as they need to”. The president emphasized the role of those who stayed at home and served the community, concluding by wishing that “as so many times in Hungarian history, we should rise stronger from this difficult situation.”

Later on Sunday, Novák attended the inauguration of a school building in the village of Csepe (Chepa), where children can cultivate folk traditions and receive folk music and folk dance lessons. She said that “we need this place so that even the youngest children can learn the treasures of our common culture so that they can pass them on to their children”.

The Hungarians of Transcarpathia know what it means to survive, what it means to struggle, but “it is not just about survival – it is about life”, Novák said. “This institution is proof that there is and will be a Hungarian future here, in Transcarpathia”, she stressed.

Featured photo via MTI/Sándor-palota

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