Ukraine declares Hungary’s consul ‘persona non grata’, Hungary expels Ukrainian consul in tit-for-tat retaliation
The Hungarian consul in Berehove (Beregszász) has been declared by Ukraine’s foreign ministry “persona non grata” and must leave the country within 72 hours, the ministry said on its website on Thursday.
Hungarian Ambassador in Kiev Ernő Keskeny has been handed a diplomatic note stating that the consul in Berehove had been involved in activities incompatible with the status of a consular officer and therefore in line with the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, he must leave Ukraine, the statement said.
The statement did not contain the name of the consul.
The ministry expressed hope that the Hungarian side will refrain from taking any “unfriendly steps” towards Ukraine in the future and that its officials will not violate Ukrainian legislation.
The ministry said Kiev considers Ukrainian citizens of Hungarian descent “a unifying factor in relations between the two states” and called on its Hungarian partners to do the same.
Last month, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said he would not rule out expelling the Hungarian consul from the country after hidden camera footage showing the diplomat conducting a Hungarian citizenship oath-taking ceremony for Ukrainian citizens at the consulate appeared online. Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó reacted by condemning what he called “the Ukrainian leadership’s attempt to intimidate the ethnic Hungarian community in Transcarpathia”.
As a response, Hungary is expelling a Ukrainian consul in retaliation against Ukraine’s expulsion of a Hungarian consul, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjaártó announced on Thursday.
Szijjártó stressed that Hungary will continue to block Ukraine’s aspirations to join NATO and the EU.
He told a press conference that the foreign ministry had summoned Ukraine’s ambassador to Hungary and told her that a consul working at the embassy would have to leave Hungary within 72 hours.
Hungary’s interest lies in fostering good relations with all of its neighbouring countries, Szijjártó said.
But over the past several months, he said, Ukraine had been “escalating the conflict with Hungary”.
The minister insisted the consul that Ukraine has expelled had not broken any of Ukraine’s laws by conducting the oath-taking ceremony.
He said it was a fact that the recording of the ceremony had been a Ukrainian secret service operation that went against “every written and unwritten rule of diplomacy”.
On another subject, Szijjártó said that Ukraine’s parliament on Thursday started debating a language bill he said would be detrimental to the Hungarian community, in spite of the country’s promises to hold off on a debate.
He called it “unacceptable” that the bill would now require that a language must to be used by 33 percent of the population in a given administrative area in order for it to be declared an official language instead of the original 10 percent requirement.
Under the law, Szijjártó said, the 150,000 Hungarians living in western Ukraine’s Transcarpathia region would lose their right to use their mother tongue. The minister said such a situation would be in breach of international regulations.
Szijjártó also noted that Ukraine was deploying police and military forces near its border with Hungary.
If a country with aspirations to join NATO deploys a portion of its troops at the border of a NATO country, then it cannot join the alliance, he said. And if a country hoping to join the European Union “launches an attack on the institution of dual citizenship, then that country’s aspirations for European integration can’t be seen as credible, either”, he added.
Featured image: www.facebook.com/ErnőKeskeny