Hungary/Ukraine – The Russian-Ukrainian conflict remains marked by a diplomatic ballet among Western leaders who are following one another in Kiev and Moscow. Some are beginning to take precautions, such as the United States, which has transferred its embassy from Kiev to Lviv and called on its citizens to leave Belarus and Moldova immediately. For its part, Hungary is also taking steps to deal with any eventuality.
Hungary pleading for de-escalation
First and foremost, the authorities in Budapest, who have adopted a less negative attitude towards Moscow despite the country being a full member of NATO, are continuing their diplomatic offensive by essentially calling for a de-escalation of the conflict. Thus, reporting on a telephone conversation with his Canadian counterpart, Melanie Joly, while on a visit to Székely Land in Transylvania on Monday, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó confirmed
“Hungary’s commitment to a diplomatic solution, because it is in the interest of our national security to avoid a war in our region” and that this is also “in the interest of the whole world”.
130,000 Hungarians live in Subcarpathia, a region near the border with Hungary
Nevertheless, in the event that Russia and Ukraine go to war, Hungary is preparing to receive refugees from Ukraine and in particular Hungarians from Subcarpathia, a formerly Hungarian region also called Transcarpathia in the westernmost part of Ukraine where 12.1% of the inhabitants (about 130,000 people) are ethnic Hungarians, their proportion reaching 80% in the district of Berehove (Beregszász), along the Hungarian border.
A Russian-Ukrainian war could result in millions of refugees
“In the event of war, hundreds of thousands or even millions of refugees would arrive from Ukraine and fundamentally reshape the political and economic situation in Hungary. (…)
We are working for peace, but of course the state institutions in charge have begun preparations. We also have an appropriate scenario and action plan in case of war”,
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said during his state of the nation address on 12 February.
When asked by Mandiner, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained that
“the Ministry of Defence has an evacuation plan that we can use to help Hungarian citizens and, if necessary, citizens of other nations to get out of Ukraine”.