17:57 GMT +321 April 2019
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    Column of troops in Zakarpattia, western Ukraine.

    Budapest Has No Idea What Kiev Plans to Do With Troops on Hungary's Border - FM

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    Budapest and Kiev have been locked in a year-long dispute over Ukraine's 2017 education law, which deprived the Hungarian minority in western Ukraine of access to secondary and post-secondary education in their native language.

    Commenting on media reports about the transfer of Ukrainian military equipment to the Zakarpattia region, which borders Hungary, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Budapest doesn't know quite what to make of the possible deployment.

    "It's quite unusual that they are transferring their troops to the border of a NATO member country. What the point of all this is is something you need to ask them. I don't know the answer," the diplomat said.

    Earlier this week, footage appeared on YouTube showing Ukrainian military equipment moving toward Zakarpattia. Eyewitnesses reported the movement of military equipment from the Lviv region, also in the western part of Ukraine. Earlier this year, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry indicated that they planned to restore a battalion-sized military unit in the city of Berehove, Zakarpattia. The Hungarian Foreign Ministry denounced the plans, suggesting it was an indication that Kiev considers the Hungarian minority in the region a threat.

    Last week, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry accused Budapest of stepping close to a "red line" by issuing Hungarian passports to Hungarians in Berehove. On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Szijjarto warned that if the Ukrainian government expelled the Hungarian Consul in Berehove, Hungary would "immediately expel a Ukrainian consul working in Hungary." Szijjarto also accused Kiev of inciting "hatred" and "oppression" against the Hungarian minority in an effort to prop up political support for the president.

    On Wednesday, Ukraine's NATO Mission complained that Hungary again moved to block meetings of the NATO-Ukraine Commission.

    In September 2017, Ukraine passed a new law on education stipulating that secondary and post-secondary education in the country would be taught only in the Ukrainian language, with minorities able to study in their native tongue only at the primary school level. The law, which entered into force this year, prompted concerns from Hungary, Russia, Moldova and Romania, with the countries arguing that the law violates the rights of ethnic minorities.

    troop movements, troops, Hungarian Foreign Ministry, Peter Szijjarto, Hungary, Ukraine
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