On Wednesday, Hungary’s foreign minister accused Ukraine’s leadership in trying to interfere with the forthcoming Hungarian elections. His Ukrainian counterpart later refuted the charge in an episode that further strained relations between the two countries.
Peter Szijjarto, the Hungarian Foreign Minister, claimed in a video posted on social media that there was “ongoing coordination among the Hungarian Left and representatives of Ukraine’s government” and that Ukraine was trying to influence Hungary’s April 3 elections for a coalition of opposition parties.
Szijjarto did not provide any evidence to support the claim.
These statements were made after Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president, had recently criticised the Hungarian government for its approach to the conflict.
Contrary to most European Union allies and the only EU neighbor of Ukraine, Hungary has refused supply Ukraine with weapons, or allowed their transfer across its border.
The government of Russia has actively opposed the imposition of sanctions on Russian energy imports, saying that it would severely damage its economy.
Zelenskyy made a direct appeal Friday to Viktor Orban, the nationalist Hungarian Prime Minster, for a more clear stance on the war. Orban is widely considered to be the Kremlin’s closest ally in Europe.
“I want you to be completely honest. Zelenskyy addressed Orban in a video conference with EU leaders.
Orban will seek a fourth term in Hungary’s elections on Sunday. This contest is expected to be close according to polling.
Orban’s 12-year tenure saw deep economic and diplomatic ties between Russia and his government under President Vladimir Putin. This has increased Hungary’s dependence upon Russian nuclear energy technology and fossil fuels.
Orban’s right-wing Fidesz party campaigned to be the guarantor for Hungary’s security and peace as war rages in Ukraine. While falsely portraying opposition parties as trying to drag Hungary into conflict with Ukraine’s,
Szijjarto claimed Wednesday that Ukraine’s foreign Minister, Dmytro Kunleba, had called the Ukrainian Ambassador in Budapest to discuss ways to influence Hungary’s elections.
Szijjarto again suggested that opposition parties to defeat Orban had pledged to supply Ukraine weapons and to reduce imports of Russian oil and gas if elected.
Kuleba, however, denied the allegations when he spoke to the Evropeiska Pravda newspaper Wednesday.
Kuleba stated that, “in contrast to Hungary’s behavior in Ukraine, we never interfered with Hungary’s internal affairs and particularly not before an election.” It is sad to see that minister Szijjarto, in pursuit of short-term pre-election advantages, is willing to make up absurdities and end our long-standing relationship with him.