Hungary's brazen ambitions: Will Crimea or Donbas scenario repeat in Zakarpattia

Maksym Rozumniy
09:00, 07 August 2018
Politics
1855 0
Opinion

Hungary weakened its foreign policy position when at the level of the EU and NATO it initiated a number of anti-Ukrainian decisions and blocked its neighbor's European and Euro-Atlantic integration. Until now, Hungary has appealed to Ukraine's internal issues, for example, "restricting the rights" of the Hungarian national minority. But Budapest's decision to establish a new ministerial post demonstrated that the issue of the Hungarian minority in Ukraine is in fact an issue of Hungary's foreign policy and territorial encroachment on Ukraine.

Of course, the Hungarian leaders will deny this. But Ukrainian diplomatic corps must remain vigilant in order to avoid repeating the same scenario that was imposed on Crimea and Donbas. We already know how such interventions might end up. It is high time to draw the attention of our foreign partners to this clearly unfriendly step of a neighboring state and thus seize from Hungary the initiative in the ongoing diplomatic conflict.

But Ukrainian diplomatic corps must remain vigilant in order to avoid repeating the same scenario that was imposed on Crimea and Donbas

At the same time, I do not think that there have been any radical changes in Budapest's position in relation to Ukraine's Zakarpattia. It seems that Hungary has not even noticed how it has moved from supporting the Hungarian community and pro-Hungarian political forces in Zakarpattia (this long-time support especially intensified in recent years) into the institutional plane, that is, the creation of the ministerial post.

It seems that Hungarians themselves have not yet reflected on this quality change in their country's positioning in the foreign policy arena. However, it looks quite logical, in terms of the newly appointed minister continuing activities he was engaged in at previous posts. But of course, the status and assessment of Hungary's current actions on the territory of Ukraine must undoubtedly change.

Can the Crimea or Donbas scenario be repeated in Zakarpattia? I believe Hungary is not initiating the annexation scenario to the same extent as Russia once has. The Russian Federation deliberately provoked destabilization in Ukraine and was well aware of its own further steps. Moreover, all of its resources, human assets, and logistics were thought through and set up in advance.

Can the Crimea or Donbas scenario be repeated in Zakarpattia? I believe Hungary is not initiating the annexation scenario to the same extent as Russia once has

So, perhaps, the Hungarian government is first of all expecting some kind of internal political effect. And this is not only about the electorate, but also about the national idea. To date, in Hungary, supporting ethnic Hungarians outside the Hungarian state has become, in fact, one of the components of their national idea. The second component is countering migration. The government, which implements the national idea, undoubtedly gains popular loyalty and political support. So, this is much wider than just votes in the elections.

As for the plans for a possible annexation of Zakarpattia region, in this context, Hungary is acting within the framework of Russian policy and counts on further destabilization of Ukraine and partial deprivation of sovereignty when certain territories could become completely or partially uncontrolled by Kyiv. I believe that for this occasion, Budapest has been developing plans for the annexation of Zakarpattia. Although officially, of course, nobody will admit this.

As for the plans for a possible annexation of Zakarpattia region, in this context, Hungary is acting within the framework of Russian policy and counts on further destabilization of Ukraine and partial deprivation of sovereignty when certain territories could become completely or partially uncontrolled by Kyiv

Besides, I think that the Hungarian national minority and its leaders will not provoke destabilization or any violence in Zakarpattia or ask to become part of Hungary. That is, they will not behave like Russians in Crimea in 2014. At the same time, given the destabilization of the Ukrainian state and a partial loss of functionality, such prospects will be rather anticipated.

The behavior of Ukrainians, residents of Zakarpattia region, will also depend on the developments. But in the current circumstances, when Zakarpattia risks turning into a new Donbas, and none of the locals wants such a fate, the local population will not take steps in this direction. But if Ukraine loses the opportunity to defend its sovereignty and the accession to a neighboring state will seem to the region's residents an easy and painless endeavor, the scenario of Zakarpattia acceding to Hungary could find support in wider circles, not just the Hungarian minority.

Maksym Rozumnyi is a PhD in Political Science

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