Statement of the Deputy Commissioner for the Rights of National Minorities on the Occasion of the Independence Day of the Ukraine

August 24, the Independence Day of the Ukraine is an important holiday not only for those living in the mother country but also, for our Ukrainian compatriots living in Hungary: it was on this day in 1991 that our neighbors declared independence, which was supported by the overwhelming majority of the citizens who were entitled to vote at the referendum.
After this historic event, the Ukraine committed itself to development based on European values and it took consistent steps to achieve this goal. This is, among others, witnessed by the accession of the country to the Council of Europe in 1993, to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in 1997 and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in 2003.
Hungary was one of the first countries to recognize the state that regained its independence, which allowed the creation of the bases of a new type of economic, cultural and political cooperation, the guarantee element of which was the elaboration and adoption of the Hungarian - Ukrainian Basic Treaty. The mutual guarantee for and the protection of the fundamental rights of national minorities has ever since been the cornerstone of the relations between the two states.
The Ukrainian community living in Hungary is a constituent element of the state; the Ukrainians living in Hungary may exercise their constitutional right to national minority education, the use of their mother tongue, as well as the cultivation of their cultural identity through their systems of national minority self-governments and cultural institutions, both individually and as part of the community. 
Given the one thousand-year intertwining of the history of the Ukrainian and the Hungarian nations, this holiday gives all of us the opportunity to remember the strong ties between our countries as well. Due to their geopolitical positions, both countries faced many challenges and difficulties in the course of history. As they are located on the edge of Central and Eastern Europe, at the crossroads of several empires, cultures and religions, both nations suffered much and tried to ensure their peace and prosperity within the bounds of the possibilities provided by the consecutive historical periods. The Ukraine is currently also enduring times burdened with a lot of struggles, and on this day, we must also remember the victims and the suffering of the citizens.
I am hereby greeting our Ukrainian compatriots on the independence day of their mother country in the knowledge that respecting our common values also contributes to the building of cooperation and mutual trust between our nations.

Dr. Elisabeth Sándor – Szalay, Deputy Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, Ombudsman for the Rights of National Minorities