February 24, 2020
Prime minister Viktor Orbán and Fidesz-CDPP party led by him continue exaggerating a narrative of protection of the Hungarian ethnic minorities abroad. The Hungarian diaspora, and particularly 150-thousand one in Ukraine, is considered by present Hungarian authorities not only as the lever of Budapest’s influence on the neighboring states, but also as a domestic policy factor. Playing this card to a great measure enabled Viktor Orbán to get win this April on the parliamentary elections in Hungary. Today, as far as the government cannot boast of economic achievements and increasing of social standards of living, in times of blanket attacks on peoples’ democratic rights and freedoms, which may entail sanctions from the EU, exploitation of the populist idea of the protection of rights of fellow nationals abroad is aimed at people’s distraction from internal problems by means of developing the image of Hungary’s enemy. Speaking about supposed oppressions of Hungarians abroad, the authorities try to play upon patriotic heart strings of their nationals and urge them to fight for the rights of fellow nationals abroad under their command. That is the manner of the Russian president Vladimir Putin, who became a role model for Orbán. Aggressive rhetoric and rough pressure upon neighbors became the landmark of present Hungarian authorities. And now it is a turn of Ukraine to fall under virulent abuse after Slovakia and Romania. Recently we have witnessed another aggravation between Hungary and Ukraine regarding the so-called passport issue (previously they were inflicted by the language paragraph of the Law of Ukraine "On Education" and appointment of the "authorized minister" by Hungary, who should be responsible for the development of the Transcarpathian region of Ukraine - i.e. the territory belonging to other state). Wide-scale hidden pasportization of Hungarians from among Ukrainian citizens was given a long-awaited publicity following YouTube video on delivery of the Hungarian passports to citizens of Ukraine in the Hungarian consulate in Berehovo (Transcarpathian region of Ukraine). Instead of extinguishing the conflict in response to the justified demands from Ukraine to cease outraged violations of Ukrainian laws (the dual citizenship is forbidden in Ukraine) Budapest decided to heighten tensions. Foreign Minister of Hungary Peter Siyarto accused the Ukrainian party of fostering anti-Hungarian spirits in society, considered video lawful and threatened to slow down European integration of Ukraine (earlier Viktor Orbán's cabinet has already blocked a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission). Such a response confirms once again Hungary’s abuse of membership in EU and NATO. Moreover, through their nonconstructive behavior Hungarian authorities try to involve the above-mentioned organizations in the conflict with Ukraine. Inflating the farfetched problem of oppression of Transcarpathian Hungarians by Ukraine, Viktor Orbán and his office pursue distraction of attention of their nationals from miscalculations in policy towards foreign Hungarians. The actual situation strongly differs from what Budapest wishes to present. Having relied on "soft power", and actually - on bribery of Transcarpathian Hungarians, the government (which promotes programs of small business funding, education exceptionally in Hungarian, construction of infrastructure and community facilities) reckons on loyalty of local community on future elections and holding ethnic Hungarians of Transcarpathia within the present territory of accommodation. However, having squandered tens of millions state budget euros for the last years Budapest has not obtained desirable effect. On the contrary, the main result of such PR-policy was critical reduction of Hungarian population in Ukraine, at the same time the rest were marginalized. After they had received the Hungarian passports, Hungarians of Transcarpathia (by the way, people of active age, who obtained profession and education), moved to Hungary. However, by no means all of them remained in Hungary, a great part moved from European, but nonetheless poor country, to more successful countries of the European Union. Reduction of a number of ethnic Hungarians (not only in the Transcarpathian region of Ukraine, but also in other neighboring states) called into question claims of Budapest and intention of Viсtor Orban’s government to fight for strengthening of the Hungarian influence. Thus, there is no recourse for present Hungarian authorities in their attempt to avoid the responsibility for aftermaths of their populist policy towards the Hungarian ethnic minority as an element of domestic policy, but to strengthen the aggressive radical rhetoric promoting reinforcement of xenophobic spirits in the Hungarian society and to resort to frankly unfriendly actions in relation to Ukraine in the EU and NATO.
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