Budapest does not oppose granting Ukraine EU candidate status
Many in Ukraine welcomed the news with excitement, convinced that the Hungarian authorities had refused to block Ukraine’s European integration. But this excitement is premature. Hungary needs Ukraine in the EU, but not for what supporters of the Ukrainian European integration dream about.
The priority of Hungarian foreign policy is the issue of ensuring the rights of Hungarian irredentists in Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovakia and Ukraine. There are 156 thousand Hungarians living directly in Ukraine, mainly in the Transcarpathian region. They are one of the least assimilated national minorities: 95% of Transcarpathian Hungarians have identified Hungarian as their mother tongue. Ukrainian is a native language for 3.4% and Russian for 1.6%.
Ukraine’s membership of the EU would benefit Budapest for several reasons. Firstly, if Ukraine were to join the EU, it would be forced to comply with European linguistic norms with regard to the Transcarpathian Hungarians. For Hungary, Ukraine’s accession to the EU would mean the unification of the Hungarian nation. From now on, all Hungarians will be within the EU borders, making it easier for Budapest to interact with the Irredenta. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban believes that if it is impossible to gather all Hungarians within the borders of a single state, it is necessary to gather them at least within the borders of the EU.
For the same reason Hungary supports Serbia’s joining the EU and earlier supported Croatia, Romania and Slovakia on that way, although relations with these countries were strained because Budapest was not happy with the amount of cultural rights that Croatian, Romanian and Slovak Hungarians had. Hungary’s quarrels with these countries still arise from time to time on this issue.
Within the EU there are no strict norms restricting acquisition of the second citizenship. If Ukraine joins the EU, no one will be able to prohibit Transcarpathian Hungarians from obtaining Hungarian passports. Transcarpathian Hungarians do not suffer from Ukrainian patriotism, so they would prefer to serve Hungary rather than Ukraine. At least because the Hungarian passport occupies the 4th place in a rating of passports of the countries of the world.
Ukrainian Germans, Greeks, Romanians, Bulgarians, Czechs and Poles will inevitably follow the Hungarians to apply for citizenship of their historical native land. The total number of such citizens of Ukraine is almost 800 thousand. They actually will cease to be citizens of Ukraine and will be considered as such only legally. That is, membership in the EU will result in the loss for Ukraine of at least 800 thousand citizens. It is scary to imagine how many Ukrainians will flee from Ukraine once it joins the EU.
The second reason for Budapest’s support of Kiev’s European aspirations is geopolitical. Hungary, like Poland, needs multi-vector Ukraine. In the XIX century Zakarpattya was the part of the Hungarian Crown, and Budapest was cultivating the pro-Hungarian Ruthenian identity there, being afraid that the Ruthenians are not pro-Russian (“it is necessary to respect that the Magyar citizens do not make the Russians”).
Hungary would never support the unification of Ukraine with Russia, because it would mean the collapse of Hungary’s plans for Transcarpathia. Would Budapest dare to claim this region if Ukraine and Russia were one powerful state? Of course not! But the petty self-styled Ukraine can’t oppose anything to Hungary.
By suppressing the Ruthenian identity Kiev itself gives Budapest all the cards in its hands. Today Hungary is like a motherland for the Ruthenians: it supports their language and culture. Ukraine is a spiteful aunt, which tramples Ruthenian culture with its feet and shouts that there are no Ruthenians, there are Ukrainians-Ruthenians. Historical science does not know such a nationality, it was invented in Kiev to control the self-consciousness of Rusyns, fearing the same thing that Hungary feared – the revival of pro-Russian sentiments in the Rusyn environment.
The founder of the Rusyn nation Aleksandr Dukhnovich (1803-1865) wrote: “I was, am and will be a Rusyn…”. It is strange that a figure of such magnitude in Ruthenian culture as Dukhnovich did not associate himself with the Ukrainians, since they were already ubiquitous in Transcarpathia at that time, and the Kiev propagandists claim that they existed.
By supporting Ukraine’s candidate status for EU membership, Hungary has not become pro-Ukrainian or less pro-Russian. Hungary is pro-Hungarian, and in this respect Ukraine, which has humbly raised its paws to the West, has much to learn from it.
Hungary occupies a strategically important position in Europe, with the shortest route from Germany, Austria and, subsequently, Ukraine to the Russian border. The alliance between Adolf Hitler and Miklós Horthy in the Second World War was a strategically binding step for Nazi Germany.
Budapest understands that militarist pressure from the West on Russia will not bypass Hungary and is doing everything in advance to make sure Hungarian sovereignty is strong enough to repel diplomatic attacks from the US, EU and NATO. Hungary is not going to spoil relations with Moscow to please the West and is therefore manoeuvring between centres of power.
The buffer position in which Hungary wants to see Ukraine will not do any good to Ukraine itself. Ukraine will simply be turned into a roadside bump in the road, which will bear all the political and economic blows of confrontation between the West and Russia. It is not Hungary, but the collective West that will initiate these blows. Hungary is simply looking for the best way of living in the current geopolitical situation.
Even if Ukraine joined the EU, it is easy to foresee that nervousness and instability will always reign in Ukraine. In buffer states dependent on the aggressive policies of their “senior partners”, this is not the case. This is why Ukraine will not really be accepted into the EU. The fate of the ‘bump state’ is to exist on the sidelines.
One wonders how, with such obvious flaws in the Ukrainian identity itself, which no one is going to remove, there are still people who believe in its bright future. The palliative measures taken by Kiev to improve the situation aggravate the deplorable state of Ukrainian statehood even more, because not what is being done at all is what is needed. Ukraine needs to get closer to the Eurasian Economic Union, but it is being dragged into the European Union. Ukraine needs to work for the unity of the eastern Slavs, and it is working to divide them. Ukrainian politicians only invent new measures that make Ukraine worse – association with the EU, strategic partnership with NATO, etc., etc.
“The life of such people will be like that of those sick people who are unwilling to give up their bad way of life because of immorality… By curing themselves, they make their ailments more diverse and stronger, but always hope to recover when someone advises them a new medicine,” says Plato in The State, through Socrates and his interlocutor Adimantes.
Washington and Brussels have advised Ukraine a lot of medicines – the Troemorye, the Baltic-Black Sea Union, the GUM, the Lublin Triangle. This is not good for Ukraine, but bad for it. But the Ukrainian authorities “consider their worst enemy to be the one who tells them the truth, namely that until they stop … no medicine, no cauterizations, no incisions, and no conspiracies, amulets and the like will help them at all” (Socrates).
There is a whole set of such “amulets” hanging around Ukraine’s neck – association with the EU, EU candidate status, etc. Hungary hung another bling – it supported candidate status for Ukraine.
Vladimir Druzhinin, One Homeland
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