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Ukraine tells Hungary “anti-Ukrainian rhetoric“ must stop


Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban attends a plenary session with leaders of the V4 group and hosted by Boris Johnson, who was then British prime minister, as part of the V4 + UK summit, at Lancaster House, in London, Britain March 8, 2022. Leon Neal/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Ukraine protested to Hungary’s ambassador on Tuesday over “disparaging” comments made by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and urged Budapest to stop what it called anti-Ukrainian rhetoric.

The envoy was summoned by the foreign ministry after its spokesperson said last week that Orban had told reporters Ukraine was a no man’s land and compared it to Afghanistan.

Ambassador Istvan Ijdjarto was delivered “a strong protest in connection with the recent disparaging statements of the Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban,” the ministry said.

“It was emphasised to the Hungarian diplomat that the anti-Ukrainian rhetoric, which has been heard from the Hungarian leadership for a long time, is absolutely unacceptable and causes serious damage to Ukrainian-Hungarian relations.”

The ministry added: “The Hungarian side was urged to stop this negative trend in order to avoid irreparable consequences for the relations between the two countries.”

Hungary has criticised European Union sanctions on Russia over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, saying they failed to weaken Moscow meaningfully and risked destroying the European economy, and opted last year not to send weapons to Ukraine.

Kyiv complained to Hungary last year after Orban went to a football match wearing a scarf that it said depicted some Ukrainian territory as part of Hungary.

The two countries have also clashed in recent years over what Hungary said were curbs on the right of ethnic Hungarians living in Ukraine to use their native tongue, especially in education, after Ukraine passed a law in 2017 restricting the use of minority languages in schools.