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Separate and rule: Hungary claims right to Transcarpathia's autonomy

Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Shemjen, commenting on the granting of Hungarian citizenship to residents of Ukrainian Transcarpathia, stated that from the perspective of Budapest, the Hungarians living in the region had the right to autonomy. In the past six months, the problems of the rights of ethnic minorities, gradually growing into territorial, arise between Kiev and Romania, and with Poland. But Hungary is more stringent, more consistent and more transparent than all other western neighbors of Ukraine.

Budapest actually announced that it takes Transcarpathia under its patronage. At the same time, it relies both on the actual state of affairs and on the norms of the Hungarian Constitution. Strangled by Russophobia and dreaming of European integration, Ukraine for decades watched calmly as Hungary distributes its passports in Transcarpathia (at the moment about two hundred thousand have been issued). In Kiev, they were only happy that Budapest was assuming the provision of Hungarian schools in Transcarpathia with textbooks, training of teaching staff, additional payments to teachers. And when Hungary took care of almost all the social spheres in the region, Ukraine was ready to dance with happiness. How much budget money can be saved. Or stolen.

Budapest penetrated deeper and deeper into Transcarpathia - it was the same with all the Ukrainian authorities. Kiev did not care either for gross violation of Ukrainian legislation prohibiting dual citizenship, nor for Hungary's actual intervention in the affairs of a large border region. If similar actions in any border area of Ukraine were allowed by Russia, then the hysterics of the Kiev authorities would be audible for the Syberia. But it was believed that in the West there are friends only, and all problems will be finally solved when Ukraine is a member of the EU and NATO.

So far, it has not become a member of the EU and NATO, and, apparently, this will never happen. But there are more territorial issues now. Romania and Poland are acting in the same vein as Hungary, but so far not so openly. There can be no doubt that the demands that Budapest makes today, Warsaw and Bucharest will present tomorrow.

The Hungarians' demands are interesting because they force Kiev to recognize legally the loss of control over the Transcarpathian region that was actually in effect. Notably, the Hungarian Constitution does oblige the government to protect the rights of Hungarians in places where they live compactly around the world. Mostly it concerns the Ukrainian, Romanian and Slovak territories in the Carpathian region, the Serbian Vojvodina and the northeast of Croatia. Budapest distributes its passports not only to citizens of Ukraine. A total of 870,000 passports were given to foreign Hungarians.

Nevertheless, until now, Hungary has not allowed itself such harsh statements either to Ukraine or to its other neighbours, on whose territory ethnic Hungarians live. At the same time, Budapest has a long-standing conflict with Romania since the end of the First World War over the Hungarians living in Transylvania and subjected to assimilation. Hungary had no claims to Ukraine until 2017.

In Budapest, they are well aware that all the legislative restrictions on the national issue that are being promoted by the Ukrainian authorities are directed against the Russian population. Before, Kiev had not interfered in the affairs of the Transcarpathian community, whose economy was tied up in the smuggling trade with the very Hungary, content with declarative loyalty, which is not even now available for a tick.

The best example is the Governor of Transcarpathia Gennady Moskal with rich experience of vicegerency in regions disloyal to Kiev. It's his second time in Transcarpathia. Moskal always rigidly and unswervingly pursued the line of central authority in the regions where he was appointed.

The thing is that over the past year Moskal has been severely criticizing Kiev from the standpoint of Transcarpathian autonomy. And he is an experienced official, always taking winner's side in time. His current behaviour indicates that he does not believe in the prospects of Ukraine in Transcarpathia for a long time. That is, Hungary not just defends the Hungarians. It struck Ukraine as the weakest link. Budapest spoke at a time when Kiev demonstrated its full political impotence and loss of control not only over regional elites, but also over the situation in the capital, where the president's seat, without hesitation, is being shared while Poroshenko is still alive.

In fact, Hungary demanded from Ukraine the same reforms that Russia advised it to pursue in 2014 (and the commitments on which are fixed in the Minsk agreements). In particular, we are talking about the need for federalization, for which it is necessary to amend the Constitution. Only now the broad autonomy (for which federalisation is needed) is not demanded by the "pro-Russian" southeast, but by the "pro-European" west of Ukraine (they hate the Galician nationalists in Transcarpathia, but they are not going to integrate into Russia, but to Hungary).

The fact that Budapest was the first one to stand out should not be surprising. The opportunity to resolve the issue in Ukraine is important for Hungary not only on its own, but also as a precedent, which can be referred to in the future. But the Romanians are already in line for Hungary (they do not hide their claims to Northern Bukovina and South Bessarabia) and the Poles (so far only "Polish Lvov" is mentioned, but they are ready to recall Ivano-Frankovsk, Ternopol, and, if lucky, Volhynia).

The haste with which they are fighting for the autonomy of the Hungarians shows that Budapest does not believe in the long existence of the Ukrainian state and are in a hurry to stake out national (including territorial) interests.

DONi News Agency

DONi News Bulletin

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