Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 21.09.2018
On September 20, Ukrinform news agency published a hidden camera video from the Hungarian consulate in Berehove, Zakarpattia region, Ukraine. The video showed Ukrainian citizens receiving passports from Hungarian consular officials. A ceremony was conducted, in which the recipient of second citizenship was toasted with champagne. The now dual Ukrainian-Hungarian citizens were instructed by Hungarian consular officials to conceal the fact of obtaining Hungarian citizenship from the Ukrainian authorities.
Ukrainian law does not recognize dual citizenship. On the territory of Ukraine, Ukrainian citizens who have another passport are treated solely as Ukrainian citizens under the law.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Pavlo Klimkin, said that he would meet his Hungarian counterpart at the United Nations General Assembly to deliver Ukraine’s diplomatic protest at Hungary’s practice of “passportization.” Minister Klimkin hinted that the Hungarian consul in Berehove could be expelled from Ukraine for engaging in activities which violate Ukrainian law and which are incompatible with his diplomatic status.
In response to Ukraine protecting its sovereignty from Hungarian threats, Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued more threats. Péter Szijjártó said on September 20 that were Ukraine to expel the Hungarian consul in Berehove then Hungary would retaliate.
Minister Szijjártó has steered Hungary towards an anti-Ukrainian foreign policy over the past year, and he now does little to disguise his advocacy of separatism in Zakarpattia. The government of Viktor Orbán does not treat Ukraine as fully sovereign in its westernmost territory.
Subverting the sovereignty of a neighbouring country with passports is a trick from Putin’s playbook. As part of “Rooskiy Mir” imperialist aggression, the Putin regime gives Russian Federation passports to citizens of Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and other neighbouring countries. These passports are given or forced upon Russian speakers or ethnic Russians that the Putin regime believes have a natural loyalty to Muscovy. “Passportization” is a kind of ethnic cleansing against countries the Putin regime does not consider to be fully sovereign within internationally-recognized borders – especially Ukraine.
The Orbán regime in Hungary does not consider Ukraine to be fully sovereign over its territory of Zakarpattia. The Hungarian government regards some Ukrainian citizens in Zakarpattia as Hungarian. It is giving people who are Hungarian speakers or who are ethnic Hungarians passports and citizenship of Hungary, and then demanding they switch their sole loyalty to Hungary.
Under Viktor Orbán and Péter Szijjártó, Hungary is slipping beyond authoritarianism into fascism. The rule of law and the values of the European Union are pretty much gone from Hungary. That is why other EU members are initiating Article 7 proceedings against Hungary, leading to sanctions. The Hungarian government’s assault of Ukrainian sovereignty is part of a broader attack on European values the Orbán regime is making. Hungary under Orbán is leaving the European family at the same time that Ukraine after the Revolution of Dignity is well on its path towards Europe.
Hungary is up to some obnoxious mischief in Ukraine. Carrying out a policy of “passportization” against Ukrainian citizens in Ukraine is an unfriendly act by Hungary. Ukraine would be fully justified if it decides to expel the Hungarian consul from Berehove. Hungary should stop being another Russia and stop being another enemy of Ukraine. Hungary should get its nose out of Ukraine’s business.