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Foreign Policy Research Institute

tel. +38 (044) 287 52 58

INTERNATIONAL WEEKLY № 18 (01.10.2018 — 15.10.2018)

The Hungarian-Ukrainian conflict escalates: the mutual expulsion of the consuls

The aggravation of the new Ukrainian-Hungarian dispute provoked a video that captured the ceremony of granting Hungarian citizenship to the inhabitants of Transcarpathia. At first, issue a passport, then sounds the oath of allegiance to Hungary on the background of the Hungarian flag. After that, supposedly the consular officer asks in Hungarian language not to tell Ukrainian officials about obtaining a Hungarian passport. One way or another, the dispute with Hungary lasts for several years. The unresolved issue of dual citizenship is one of its main causes. [1]

The so-called "passport conflict", which defined the relations between Ukraine and Hungary in recent weeks, has reached its climax. Ukraine eventually deported the Hungarian consul, who was one of the organizers of the oath of ceremony of the newly-arrived citizens of Hungary in the city of Berehove. Hungary brilliantly reacted forcing First Secretary of the Embassy to leave Budapest from Ukraine. 

According to the statements of our (and Hungarian) diplomats after mutual expulsion, you may get the impression that the situation is like a catastrophe. Szijjarto accused Kyiv of a sharp escalation of the conflict and promised to complain about Ukraine to the US ambassador. Instead, Klimkin called Budapest’s actions "fundamentally inadequate", and the spokesman of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry accused the Hungarians of violating the principle of proportionality. The exchange of "titles" of the persona non grata was the only way to defuse the conflict, to make a point at its current stage. And the fact that neither Kyiv nor Budapest named consuls they expelled was another indication that they did not intend to inflate the confrontation.  Diplomacy has firm, though sometimes unwritten rules. One of these rules is the principle of reciprocity. In the event that one country expels diplomats to another country, then the other must respond with the same, otherwise it will mean recognition of own fault. Exceptions are so rare and so thoroughly substantiated that they rather confirm the rule.[2]

On October 10, it was reported that the Hungarian Foreign Ministry summoned Ambassador of Ukraine Liubov Nepop in connection with the "situation around the Hungarians in the Transcarpathian region" and the publication of names of Transcarpathian officials who have the Hungarian passport on the "Peacemaker" website. According to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Levente Magyar, Budapest also has concerns about the" creation of a military base " in the Transcarpathian region, a few kilometers from the border with Hungary. In addition, Budapest was indignant by the appearance on the website of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine petition on the settlement of the status of citizens of Ukraine with two or more citizenship of the EU countries.[3]

The events surrounding the distribution of Hungarian citizenship in Berehove, let’s say, is no fun. They only complicate the already imperfect relations between the two countries. The fact that we have no criminal or administrative liability for dual citizenship doesn’t change the facts. The Hungarian side should realize that secretly handing out the citizenship to the ethnic Hungarians of Ukraine, it thus creates potential problems for them. The presence of another citizenship can cause quite reasonable questions when appointing to public office, especially in the law enforcement agencies of Ukraine.[4]

Summing up the above, it can be noted that the Ukrainian-Hungarian conflict has not yet reached its peak and will only deepen, especially given the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine and the European elections in Hungary, therefore, it is necessary to respond accordingly. Further manipulation of the rights of national minorities from Hungary should be expected.

The possible settlement of Ukrainian-Hungarian relations will also depend on the ability of the parties to compromise, mediation and pressure of international actors to resolve the dispute. Most likely, Russia will contribute to further aggravation of the Hungarian-Ukrainian conflict, in order to stop the process of European integration and isolation of Ukraine.