Hungarian minister says Ukraine's entry ban order is 'pathetic and nonsense'

FILE PHOTO: Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto is seen during a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Minh in Hanoi, Vietnam October 16, 2020. REUTERS/Kham

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungary’s foreign minister said on Tuesday Ukraine’s decision to bar the entry of two Hungarian government officials over what it called meddling in local elections was “pathetic and nonsense”.

In a video message on his Facebook page, Peter Szijjarto said Budapest had not received formal notice of the Ukrainian ban.

In the video, Szijjarto welcomed the victory of Hungarian candidates in Ukrainian local elections, which he said meant Hungarians’ opinion would have to be considered for the future of the region bordering Hungary, which has a large ethnic Hungarian minority.

He said Ukraine had taken “unfriendly steps” towards Hungary, by summoning the Hungarian ambassador and deciding to ban the entry of the two officials.

“With this Ukraine sends the message … that it has given up on Hungarian support for its euroatlantic integration efforts,” Szijjarto said.

It was not the first time that Hungary has hinted at blocking Ukraine’s membership of NATO.

The two countries have repeatedly clashed in the past years over what Hungary said were curbs on the rights of roughly 150,000 ethnic Hungarians to use their native tongue, especially in education, after Ukraine passed a law in 2017 restricting the use of minority languages in schools.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said on Monday it had handed the Hungarian ambassador a note of protest for what it described as political agitation by Hungarian officials in favour of a party that contested Saturday’s elections in Ukraine.

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