Ukraine and Hungary Expel Consuls as Passport Row Deepens
Hungary has threatened to block Ukraine's integration into the EU and NATO membership
Photo from Ukrinform–UATV
Ukraine and Hungary announced tit-for-tat expulsions of each other’s diplomats today, the latest in a series of spats between the neighbors that threaten to set back Kyiv’s aspirations for European Union and NATO membership, Reuters reports.
A notice was handed to Ernő Keskeny, the Hungarian consul in Berehove, Zakarpattia region, this morning, after he was declared persona non grata.
“He was given a note stating that, in accordance with Article 23 of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, in connection with activities incompatible with the status of a consular officer, the consul of the consulate of Hungary in the city of Berehove should leave the territory of Ukraine wihin the next 72 hours,” Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said.
The Foreign Ministry still hopes that Hungary will continue to refrain from any hostile steps towards Ukraine, and Hungarian officials from violations of Ukrainian legislations.
“We consider Ukrainian citizens of Hungarian origin as a unifying factor in relations between the two states, and we call on our Hungarian partners to do the same,” the ministry wrote.
However, Hungary also expelled a Ukrainian consul in Budapest and reiterated a threat to block Ukraine’s EU and NATO integration.
Ukraine has accused the Hungarian consul of illegally issuing passports to Ukrainian citizens of Hungarian ethnicity in western Ukraine. Ukraine’s constitution bars Ukrainians from holding citizenship of other countries.
Hungarian foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, accused Ukraine of pursuing “an extreme campaign which incites hatred against Transcarpathian Hungarians” and denied that its consul had broken the law.
He also criticized Ukraine’s decision to conduct military exercises near the Hungarian border. The head of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, in a Reuters interview on Saturday, denied the exercises were hostile to Hungary.
“If a country aspiring for NATO membership settles military forces to the border of NATO, it cannot join NATO, and if it launches an attack against dual citizenship, an established EU institution, it cannot join the EU either,” Szijjarto said.
“As long as Ukraine does not meet its obligations undertaken to NATO and the EU, we will veto every attempt aimed to bring Ukraine closer to these two integrations.”
Szijjarto met his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov for talks in Moscow yesterday. Asked today whether blocking Ukraine’s aspirations for western integration was playing into Russia’s hands, he said that he would “like to stress once more that I don’t care what Russians think about the politics that we pursue regarding Ukraine.”
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin, spoke out yesterday about Ukraine’s decision and stance on the matter.