“As a proportional response to Ukraine’s measure, Hungary is expelling a Ukrainian consul”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó announced at a press conference in Budapest on Thursday.

The Minister was reacting to the fact that this morning the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry declared the Hungarian Consul in Berehove (Beregszász) a persona non grata and ordered that he leave the country within 72 hours.

“Hungary has an interest in maintaining good relations with neighbouring Ukraine, but in recent months Ukraine has been continuously aggravating the conflict with Hungary”, the Minister emphasised.

DownloadPhoto: Zoltán Máthé/MTI

“The Hungarian Consul expelled from Ukraine’s territory did not contravene any law”, he highlighted.

“Ukraine’s Ambassador to Budapest was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Thursday and told that one of the consuls working at the Ukrainian Embassy in Budapest must leave Hungary within 72 hours”, Mr. Szijjártó told the press.

The Minister said it was fact that the hidden camera video recorded at Hungary’s foreign representation in Berehove and made public a few days ago, was acquired within the framework of a secret service operation, which goes against all of the written and unwritten rules of diplomacy.

“Despite the promises, on Thursday Ukrainian Parliament nevertheless began the debating of the Language Act, which also negatively affects Hungarians, after having already adopted an Education Act that is also detrimental to minorities”, he also said.

DownloadPhoto: Zoltán Máthé/MTI

Mr. Szijjártó said the Language Act bill, which would increase the ratio of the population required to enable certain language use rights to 33 percent from 10 percent,  is unacceptable. As a result, a significant proportion of the some 150 thousand Hungarians living in Transcarpathia would lose the right to use their native language, which according to the Minister also goes against all international regulations.

“In addition, Ukraine is also deploying military and police forces to the vicinity of its border with Hungary”, he said, listing the measures that may be regarded as provocative. “If a country that is striving to join NATO deploys part of its military strength to its border with a NATO member state, it cannot join the organisation”, he declared, “and if a country that is striving to join the European Union launches an attack against the institution of dual citizenship, which is common practice within the EU, then its European integration aspirations also cannot be regarded as genuine”, he underlined, stressing: “Hungary will continue to veto these two goals of Ukraine”.

The Minister recalled the assistance that Hungary has provided to Ukraine in recent years, and following which “we did not expect these stabs in the back”.

“In an effort to increase his extremely low popularity, the Ukrainian President has chosen to enter into a campaign of inciting hatred against Transcarpathian Hungarians during the election campaign. But Ukraine is violating a host of international treaties by stripping Hungarian and other minorities of their previously acquired rights”, he explained.

In reply to a question, Mr. Szijjártó said Ukraine has not entered into any kind of dialogue with Hungary with relation to the Language Act, and has also not kept the promise it made during the course of talks on the Education Act.

The Minister said the most important thing is protecting the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia, which it will not allow to become the victim of geopolitical power-games. “The further aggravation of the situation is not in Hungary’s interests, but we nevertheless expect the Ukrainian party to exploit this during the course of the election campaign”, he said.