UKRAINE/HUNGARY: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was recently pressured to apologise after posting a video of himself at a football match, garbed in a scarf that depicted historical, undivided Hungary with parts of present-day Ukraine and neighbouring countries.
Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s foreign ministry, said on Tuesday that the issue had gained traction in Ukraine and that Kyiv had decided to summon Hungary’s ambassador, “who will be informed of the unacceptability of Viktor Orbán’s act.”
Nikolenko took to Facebook and wrote: “The promotion of revisionism ideas in Hungary does not contribute to the development of Ukrainian-Hungarian relations and does not comply with the principles of European policy.”
“We are waiting for an official apology from the Hungarian side and a refutation of the encroachments on the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” he added.
Romania slams Hungary’s PM Orbán
Ukrainian media also broadcast images of Orbán meeting a Hungarian footballer wearing a scarf, which the news outlet Ukrainska Pravda reported was depicted as a map of “Greater Hungary.” This historical map of Greater Hungary shows an undivided territory that includes the neighbouring states of Ukraine, Austria, Slovakia, Romania, Croatia, and Serbia.
Romania’s foreign ministry also slammed Orbán’s move, saying it had contacted the Hungarian ambassador in Bucharest and expressed its “firm disapproval of the gesture.”
“Any revisionist manifestation, no matter what form it takes, is unacceptable, as it goes against current realities and common commitments,” it said in a statement on Monday.
Orbán did not specifically respond to the backlash, but in a Facebook post on Tuesday, he said: “Soccer is not politics. Do not read things into it that are not there.”
“The Hungarian national team belongs to all Hungarians, wherever they live!”
Orbán has a history of igniting old nationalistic sentiments and hostilities and repeatedly clashing over Hungary’s curbs on the human rights of ethnic Hungarians living in Ukraine to speak their native tongue, especially in education after Ukraine ratified a law in 2017 restricting the use of minority languages in schools.
Around two million ethnic Hungarians currently reside in the neighboring countries, including 1.2 million in Romania and 150,000 in Ukraine.