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494 words - February 19, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
In accordance with a letter Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban sent to President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, Hungary dispatched its observers for Parliamentary elections held in Ukraine in October 2012. "We will accede to the delegation of international observers according to our possibilities," Mr Orban said, a few days after he praised Ukraine for the "highly evaluated" EURO-2012 soccer competition holding. The letter also reiterated that the quality of the elections' holding would likely impact the "international image" of Ukraine, positively or negatively.
By way of warning, Hungary joined fellow countries of the Visegrad Group (V4) and the Benelux (B3) when they issued a joint statement which called on Yanukovych's government to "improve rule of law and respect for human rights". They further said that the imprisonment of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and a global deterioration of Ukraine's situation in the areas of the rule of law, human rights and freedom of speech showed some "regressive tendencies in democratization" of the country. On November 6, Hungary questioned the legitimacy of the outcome of Ukraine's parliamentary elections and qualified the vote "as a step back in democratic development."
Widespread corruption and unbalanced media coverage flawed the electoral process, Parliamentary State Secretary of Hungary's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Zsolt Németh explained. In addition, he expressed his concern over the 10% score of the Svoboda party which he denounced as "strongly anti-Hungarian and extremist." The Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially took a softer stance on November 7 when it welcomed the fact that "the elections (…) took place without any incident". It now seems, however, that the bilateral relationship between the two countries has improved. On February 14, Mr Németh met with Alexander Vershbow, the Deputy Secretary-General of NATO. He underlined the importance of pursuing the Alliance's enlargement and welcomed the revival of the NATO-Russia Council and the agreement with Ukraine to deepen cooperation.
"Hungary supports the European integration aspirations of Ukraine at all levels, and plans to continue the cooperation that began with the Transcarpathian region under the auspices of the Eastern Partnership program," Mr Németh declared when he arrived in Ungvár (Uzhgorod) for a two-day visit to the region on February 15. He held talks with Oleksandr Ledida, the Governor of Transcarpathia County and with Ivan Baloga, the Chairman of the County Assembly. With respect to bolstering Hungarian-Ukrainian relations, the Hungarian official considers it very important to develop border crossing infrastructure, considering that Ukraine is "most probably" going to import gas from Hungary due to ongoing issues with its Russia, its main supplier.
"Hungary is looking forward with great expectations to the upcoming visit of Ukrainian Premier Mikola Azarov to Hungary," said Mr Németh. He also mentioned the Eastern Partnership Summit that will be held in Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, in November 2013. Hungary expects the signing of the Free Trade and Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine.
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