The Hungarian government condemns in the strongest terms the Ukrainian leadership’s attempt to “intimidate” the ethnic Hungarian community in Transcarpathia, Hungary’s foreign minister said on Thursday.
Addressing a press conference on a different subject, Péter Szijjártó reacted to his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin’s remark that he is not ruling out expelling the Hungarian consul serving in Beregszász (Berehove) from the country after hidden camera footage showing Ukrainian citizens taking Hungarian citizenship oaths at the consulate appeared on YouTube.
Szijjártó said the oath-taking ceremony in question had been conducted lawfully, insisting that Klimkin’s objection to it had more to do with Ukraine’s upcoming election.
He called it a “particularly unfriendly move” to use hidden camera footage in the election campaign which he said served only to mobilise “the anti-Hungarian vote”. The minister insisted that the footage had been leaked on purpose and recorded as part of an organised campaign.
Dual citizenship is common in the European Union, Szijjártó said, adding that the Ukrainian leadership’s objection to the oath-taking raised questions over whether Kiev was serious about its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. Ukraine must honour its international obligations and accept that Transcarpathia Hungarians are still entitled to their rights “even if Ukraine is working on curbing them”, he said.
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Szijjártó said Hungary would consider the expulsion of its consul in Berehove a “risky and unfriendly move”. Such a move would steer the two countries’ relations “into a new dimension” and would not be left without retaliation, he said, adding, at the same time, that his ministry had yet to be notified of any plans to expel the consul.
He called Klimkin’s comments “the latest in the series of attacks on Transcarpathia Hungarians”. Hungary is constantly monitoring the situation, he said, adding that the government was not ruling out future steps to slow Ukraine’s European integration.
“There will be plenty to talk about” at next Tuesday’s session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York after the latest affair, Szijjártó said.
Klimkin told journalists on Wednesday that he would show the hidden camera footage to Szijjártó on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting.
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featured photo by Zsolt Szigetváry/MTI