UWC President E. Czolij Visits the Ukrainian Community in Hungary
July 8, 2011
UWC PRESIDENT EUGENE CZOLIJ VISITS THE UKRAINIAN COMMUNITY IN HUNGARY
Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) President, Eugene Czolij, visited Hungary from June 28 – July 1, 2011. He became acquainted with the life of the 8,000 strong Ukrainian community and raised issues of significance to Ukrainians with the Speaker of the National Assembly of Hungary, representatives of the government authorities and local self-governing bodies in Hungary.
Eugene Czolij’s visit was organized by the Association of Ukrainian Culture in Hungary and its president, Jaroszlava Hartyanyi, who is also the President of the European Congress of Ukrainians and the National Ukrainian Minority Self-Government in Hungary.
Accompanying Eugene Czolij and Jaroszlava Hartyanyi were Association Vice President György Kravcsenko and Executive Secretary Roman Rishko.
On June 28, the first day of the visit, Jaroszlava Hartyanyi shared the successes and future plans of the Association of Ukrainian Culture in Hungary with the UWC President, and informed him of the problematic issues surrounding the National Ukrainian Minority Self-Government election held in Hungary on January 2011.
On June 29, Eugene Czolij laid wreaths to the monuments honoring the victims of the Holodomor, Taras Shevchenko and the “Rusalka Dnistrovaia” memorial plaque.
On June 29 and July 1, the UWC President held official meetings in the Hungarian Parliament with the Speaker of the National Assembly of Hungary, László Kövér, and Deputy Prime Minister of Hungary, Zsolt Semjén. He also met with the Deputy State Secretary for Minority and Non-Government Relations, Csaba Latorcai, and Deputy Mayor of Budapest, Miklos Csomós. During these meetings, Eugene Czolij informed high-ranking Hungarian officials of the UWC’s work and issues of importance to the Ukrainian community. He specifically made note of the harmonious relationship between the government authorities and the Ukrainian national minority and, citing the Romanian example, recommended that every recognized national minority in Hungary be given the right to elect a representative to Parliament. The UWC President also commended Hungary for its successful leadership of the Council of the European Union, and expressed gratitude for the unanimous recognition in 2003 by the Hungarian Parliament of the Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people, and the erection of monuments in Hungary honoring victims of both the Holodomor and communism. In addition, he commented on the National Ukrainian Minority Self-Government elections held in Hungary in January 2011, which were the subject of a UWC letter earlier this year to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and offered suggestions for improving the electoral process. In addition, Eugene Czolij emphasized the need to support Ukraine’s democratization process and integration into the European Union at both the government and grass roots levels. This would be achieved by increasing communications via the internet and through the media and social networks, organizing meetings and presentations by European leaders at universities and community gatherings, creating more grants and scholarships to promote civil society in Ukraine, and allowing visa-free travel of Ukrainian citizens to countries currently requiring a Schengen visa. The UWC President also noted that Hungary serves as a strong example to others of the benefits of European integration, since the country freed itself from communist rule in 1989 and later joined both NATO and the European Union.
On July 1, the UWC President met with the Ukrainian Ambassador to Hungary, Yuri Mushka, and they discussed issues relating to the development of local Ukrainian community life and some troubling current events in Ukraine.
On June 29, the UWC President visited the town of Csömör where he met with Gloria Victis Foundation President, Sándor Mátyás, and, at an assembly of the town’s residents, honored the memories of the victims of communism by laying a wreath at the Holodomor memorial and lighting candles at the memorial honoring all victims of communism. Eugene Czolij then gave a speech to the community which highlighted the suffering of Ukrainians during the communist rule and criticizing the unbelievable glorification of Stalin and promotion of communist totalitarian symbolism occurring in today’s Ukraine.
On June 30, the UWC President visited the historic Tihany Abbey in the town of Tihany, where he met the abbot, Father Richard Korzenszky, and laid a wreath at the monument honoring Hungary’s King Andrew I and Queen Anastasia – a Ukrainian princess and daughter of Yaroslav Mudryi.
On July 1, Eugene Czolij concluded his visit with a community meeting held in Hungary’s Ukrainian Cultural and Documentation Centre. He delivered an address on the UWC’s activities in defence of fundamental rights and freedoms of Ukrainians, and afterward, mingled with local Ukrainians and enjoyed a cultural performance put on by the Association of Ukrainian Culture in Hungary and students of the Ukrainian Sunday school.