“If the Ukrainian party expels a Consul, Hungary will have no choice but to respond proportionally, but hopefully this can be avoided”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared on Sunday in Budapest.

Mr. Szijjártó spoke to the press at Budapest’s Ferenc Liszt International Airport prior to departing for New York, where he is attending the 73rd session of the UN General assembly this week.

The Minister told the press that he will be holding thirty-two bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the session, among which he highlighted a meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin scheduled for Tuesday, in view of the fact that the drumming up of anti-Hungarian sentiment has gained further impetus in Ukraine recently, he explained.

The Ukrainians are preparing for presidential and parliamentary elections, and support for the incumbent President is “particularly poor”, as a result of which those in power have resorted to “the usual anti-Hungarian rhetoric” in an attempt to improve their chances, he stated.

This has taken form in several phenomena: the Ukrainian secret services have begun pestering certain members of the Hungarian national community, calls for action against people with dual citizenship are now openly appearing on various websites, Hungarian diplomats are suffering regular insults, and people who are linked to the foundation that is involved in the economic development programme being financed by the Hungarian Government have been “invited for questioning” on several occasions, the Minister explained.

Mr. Szijjártó said Ukraine went further than ever before last week when, in contravention of all of the existing, written and unwritten rules of diplomacy, a secret service operation was conducted at one of Hungary’s consulates in Ukraine, at the representation of a NATO member state and on Hungarian territory.

“Hungary’s foreign representations exclusively perform activities that fully conform to international and Hungarian law”, the Minister underlined.

“Dual citizenship is common practice in Europe, and if a state truly wants to move towards European integration it cannot call this institution into question”, he said.

“Hungary has an interest in maintaining good relations with Ukraine, and is also proving this through action”, he said. “If this were not the case, Ukrainian children would not have vacationed at Lake Velence and chlorine would not have been shipped to various Ukrainian territories to ensure the continued supply of fresh water. There is currently a shortage of insulin in some of the neighbouring state’s hospitals, and Hungary will also be helping to provide a solution to this problem” he added.

“The Government is therefore doing everything possible in the interests of good relations, but is also standing up for every single member of the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia. We will not allow the Ukrainians to violate the most fundamental basic rules of diplomacy”, Mr. Szijjártó underlined.

In reply to a question, the Minister said that if Ukraine were to expel a Consul, the response would be the expulsion of a diplomat of similar rank from Hungary.

In reply to another question, Mr. Szijjártó explained that not only are the rights of the Hungarian national community in danger in Transcarpathia, but the community has found itself in a state of disenfranchisement. “Its members have been stripped of the right to study exclusively in their native language, in addition to which the holding of Hungarian cultural events and the operations of Hungarian language media have also been made impossible”, he said, listing the Ukrainian Government’s anti-Hungarian measures. “Hungary can only continue to do what it has done so far: prevent Ukraine’s progress towards EU and NATO integration”, he stated.

One reporter raised the fact that according to the opposition Democratic Coalition party, the Government’s long-term goal is to lead Hungary out of the European Union. Mr, Szijjártó said the suggestion was “absolutely stupid”. “A strong Hungary requires a strong European Union. 79 percent of Hungarian exports are destined for the EU”, he said, asking “Who would be stupid enough to want to exit the EU in such a situation?”

With relation to the result of an opinion poll according to which the majority of people think the Sargentini Report is a criticism of the Government, the Minister said one must look at the document’s title, which does not mention the Cabinet. “The document is about condemning the Hungarian people and their decisions, and includes many lies”, he declared.

On Saturday, Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reported on the fact that a Ukrainian nationalist website has begun uploading the names and addresses of Transcarpathians who are also Hungarian citizens to its public database.

The Mirotvorec (Peacemaker) Ukrainian portal also confirmed to its followers on Facebook that it has included in its Chistillishe (Cleansing Fire) database the data of the first five Transcarpathian Hungarians who have violated the law by acquiring a second (Hungarian) citizenship.

The background of events includes the fact that on Wednesday Ukrainian state news agency Ukrinform published a hidden-camera video of Transcarpathian citizens taking a Hungarian citizenship oath at the Hungarian Consulate in Berehove (Beregszász). On the same day, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said he was not ruling out the possibility that Ukraine could expel the Hungarian Consul in be Berehove. In a radio interview on Friday evening he added that Ukraine is ready to expel the Hungarian Consul in Berehove if Hungary does not recall him.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)