Message to Ukraine: Don’t be like Hungary

Analysis

In a Brussels-held seminar between members of the EU-Ukraine Business Council (EUUBC) and international organization Human Rights Without Frontiers, Hungary was held up as an example of religious freedom – but not of the good sort.

Slovenian MEP Jelko Kacin hosted the event taking on an issue touted as “particularly important given the time pressures being brought to bear in signing association agreements” at the high-profile Eastern Partnership Summit in November in Vilnius, Lithuania.

In a review of “the increasingly worrying situation regarding the status of religious freedom in the [Eastern-neighboring] countries,” Hungary, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine itself were called out for mistreatment and found to be “restricting their citizens’ ability to practice their religion.”

Gilboa mayor David Attar commented that “Europe is seeing an increase in attacks on Jewish communities” and “The situation is very grave in countries such as Hungary and Romania and we have observed a concern regarding the rise of radical anti-Semitic campaigning in Ukraine, where the UPA [Ukrainian Insurgent Army] has been celebrated despite their ties to fascism. There is a request to states attempting to sign the Association Agreement with the EU and the need for them to reconsider their stance on human rights and religious freedom.”

EUUBC director James Wilson commented that there is a need to address these issues in a grander scale by communicating to Brussels that there is still much to be done in the [aforementioned countries] ahead of Vilnius, suggesting that many of the countries should not proceed to signing association agreements until improvement can be seen. and that a joint statement needs to be sent to MEPs and the parliament.

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