Szijjarto: Hungary will retaliate in kind if Ukraine expels consul

Hungary will retaliate in kind if Ukraine expels one of its consuls, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Sunday, but voiced hope that the two countries can avoid such a scenario.

Speaking to MTI at the airport before leaving for New York for next week’s session of the United Nations General Assembly, Szijjarto noted that he will sit down with his Ukrainian counterpart, Pavlo Klimkin, on Tuesday to discuss what he called “the new momentum behind anti-Hungarian agitation in Ukraine”.

Earlier this week, Klimkin said he is not ruling out expelling the Hungarian consul serving in Berehove (Beregszasz) from the country after hidden camera footage showing Ukrainian citizens taking Hungarian citizenship oaths at the consulate appeared on YouTube. Szijjarto reacted by condemning what he called “the Ukrainian leadership’s attempt to intimidate the ethnic Hungarian community in Transcarpathia”.

Ukraine is preparing to hold presidential and parliamentary elections and the incumbent president’s approval rating is “quite modest”, Szijjarto said. “Therefore, the powers that be have turned to the well-known Hungarian hating to boost their chances,” the minister insisted.

Szijjarto said this has “taken on multiple forms”. The Ukrainian secret service has started looking into certain members of the ethnic Hungarian community and there is now a website calling for action against dual Hungarian-Ukrainian citizens, he said.

Harassment against Hungarian diplomats is getting more and more common and there have been many cases of people connected to foundations taking part in economic development schemes funded by the Hungarian government getting “called in for questioning”, Szijjarto added.

Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reported on Saturday that a Ukrainian nationalist website has started publishing the names and addresses of Transcarpathian Hungarians with dual citizenship.

Szijjarto said that this past week Ukraine “went farther than ever before when it violated every existing written and unwritten rule of international law and diplomacy” by conducting an intelligence operation at a Hungarian consulate in Ukraine, the minister said, referring to the recording of the oath-taking ceremony.

Dual citizenship is common in the European Union, he said, adding that if a country wants to move closer to the bloc, “it cannot question this institution”.

Hungary’s interests lie in maintaining good relations with Ukraine, and it has proven as such through its actions, he said. Szijjarto noted that Hungary regularly hosts children from Ukraine in summer camps, has donated chlorine to Transcarpathia and has pledged to donate insulin to Ukrainian hospitals that are facing a shortage of the medication.

Asked how Hungary would respond if Ukraine did expel one of its consuls, Szijjarto said Hungary could expel a Ukrainian diplomat of similar rank.

Source and photo: MTI

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