The FINANCIAL — A diplomatic spat between Hungary and Ukraine has escalated, with Budapest summoning Kyiv’s ambassador to protest what it called a “death list” targeting ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine as well as military movements on their common border.
Ukraine’s “anti-Hungarian policy has moved to a new level,” Hungarian Foreign Ministry official Levente Magyar told reporters in Budapest on October 10. He accused Kyiv of inciting tension between the two neighbors, according to RFE/RL.
Hungary, which is a European Union and NATO member, has cited a growing number of grievances against Kyiv in reportedly attempting to block Ukraine’s efforts toward closer cooperation with the Western bloc and military alliance.
“We call on our EU and NATO allies…to thoroughly examine what is going on in Ukraine,” Magyar said. Magyar claimed that an estimated 100,000 ethnic Hungarians living in Ukraine’s western Transcarpathia region that borders Hungary have been “frightened” by such developments as the recent emergence of a list of some 300 names on the website of the Ukrainian nationalist group Myrotvorets.
He said the list includes Hungarian officials — including Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto — as well as ethnic Hungarians in Transcarpathia alleged to have taken up dual citizenship, which is illegal in Ukraine.
Magyar also expressed “concern” that the website of the Ukrainian parliament has posted a citizens petition that calls for the “collective deportation” of dual citizens.
He also said that Ukraine had moved military units to the Hungarian border region, and was building barracks there.
Responding to reporters’ questions, Magyar said that Ukrainian Ambassador Lyubov Nepop denied Kyiv’s involvement in either the list or the petition, and said the troop movements were to protect local citizens.
Officials in Kyiv did not immediately respond to Budapest’s allegations.
The latest diplomatic clash follows a flare-up after an undercover video emerged last month that appeared to show a Hungarian diplomat in Ukraine handing out passports to ethnic Hungarians.
Kyiv responded by expelling the Hungarian consul in Transcarpathia, prompting Budapest in turn to expel a Ukrainian consul in Hungary.
Relations between Hungary and its eastern neighbor began deteriorating a year ago after a language bill was approved by Kyiv that Budapest said limited ethnic Hungarians’ rights to receive education in their mother tongue.