Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 02.10.2018
Russia is using Hungary to destabilize Ukraine from the west. The Putin regime in Moscow that is invading Ukraine in Crimea and Donbas is exploiting the pro-Kremlin Orbán regime in Budapest to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty in Zakarpattia.
On September 19 a video emerged that showed a ceremony inside the Hungarian consulate in Berehove in Zakarpattia in westernmost Ukraine. The ceremony was the issuance of Hungarian passports to Ukrainian citizens. At the ceremony, the recipients of the passports swear an oath: “I swear I consider Hungary my homeland. I will be a faithful citizen, will defend and serve Hungary. May God help me.” They are then advised the followed by Hungarian consular officials: “You must conceal the fact of obtaining Hungarian citizenship from the Ukrainian authorities.”
Ukrainian law does not recognize dual citizenship. Adult Ukrainian citizens who are discovered to have a second passport must relinquish either their foreign citizenship or their Ukrainian one.
Hungarian consular officials used diplomatically-protected premises inside Ukraine to distribute Hungarian passports to Ukrainians – who cannot legally hold dual citizenship. The intent is clearly to switch the loyalty of people in Zakarpattia from Ukraine to Hungary. “Passportization” is a hybrid war tactic used by the Russian Federation in the temporarily occupied territories of Crimea and Donbas, to try to switch the loyalty of people there from Ukraine to the Russian Federation. Destroying the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine is the common purpose of Hungarian and Russian aggression.
Ukraine asked Hungary to remove its consul from Berehove in Zakarpattia region for illegal conduct incompatible with diplomatic status. “Ukraine’s position has always been consistent and clear. The Ukrainian government was the one that offered its Hungarian counterparts to recall the Berehove-based consul in connection with the violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and Ukrainian laws. If they fail to recall [the consul], we are going to make a decision on our own that he must leave the territory of Ukraine and stop his activities in Ukraine," said Mariana Betsa, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and Ambassador-designate to Estonia.
Caught red-handed, the Hungarian government has been given an opportunity to climb down gracefully. It refused to take it. The Orbán regime in Budapest seeks to escalate conflict in Ukraine, and it spurned the diplomatic solution offered by the Ukrainian government. Tomas Menzier, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary, said that under no circumstances will Hungary withdraw its consuls from the Consulate-General in Berehove. He vowed that Hungary would continue its year-long efforts to block the integration of Ukraine into the Euro-Atlantic community. Hungary will continue to use whatever veto power it has in the EU and in NATO to thwart the aspirations of the Ukrainian people.
The Ukrainian government will expel the Hungarian consul from Berehove this week. The Orbán regime will doubtless retaliate – disproportionately. Meanwhile, Russian invaders of Ukraine are shelling all along the Donbas battlefront, putting the squeeze on the Sea of Azov, and stomping with the jackboots of oppression on Crimea. Putin looks at the mischief his Hungarian acolyte, Orbán, is making in Zakarpattia and smiles.