Ukraine’s successive nationalist governments poisoned relations with Hungary by depriving Ukrainian-Hungarians of the right to education in their native language after the 2014 coup. Budapest has subsequently refused to allow Western arms to enter Ukraine through Hungary, and rejected a Brussels-proposed embargo on Russian energy supplies.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has asked Hungarian Parliamentary Speaker Laszlo Kover to produce a psychiatrist’s certificate on his mental health after Kover suggested that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is suffering from a “mental problem”.
“The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry expects Hungarian Speaker of Parliament Laszlo Kover to publish a certificate on the state of his mental health. A further assessment of Mr. Kover’s words depends directly on the conclusions of this certificate”, ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Twitter and Facebook on Sunday.
Accusing Hungarian politicians of “persistently continuing to sling mud at Ukraine”, Nikolenko suggested that this was not surprising, because “historically, Hungary has more than once oriented itself toward the side of evil”.
On Saturday, Kover suggested that Mr Zelensky is suffering from a personal “mental problem” due to his diplomatically incorrect approach toward asking Western countries for help against Russia.
“I can’t recall another leader of a country in need of help daring to speak out against anyone in the way that President Zelensky has, not just against Hungary, but even against the German chancellor”, Kover said in an interview with HirTV, a Hungarian news channel.
Kover emphasised that the leaders of countries in need of foreign assistance usually ask for it politely, even persistently, but never resorting to demands and threats.
“You’re supposed to threaten your enemies, not those who you want to make your friends. There’s some kind of personal mental problem here, and I don’t know what can be done about it”, the speaker said.
Hungary’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Ukrainian ambassador in April over statements made by Zelensky and other officials in Kiev about Budapest’s alleged failure to “react proportionately” to Russia’s military operation, claims about “fledgling totalitarianism” inside Hungary, or that Budapest was serving as a “Russian branch” inside the European Union.
Ukrainian officials have also squared off with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who announced last month that he would not travel to Kiev to show solidarity after Ukraine snubbed President Frank-Walter Steinmeier ahead of his own planned visit over the president’s supposed “spider’s web of contacts” with Russia. Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk accused Scholz of cowardice, calling him an “offended liverwurst sausage”. German lawmakers from both the government and opposition called on Melnyk to apologise for his personal attacks or leave the country. Melnyk refused, and complained that even “little Estonia” has done more to help Kiev than Germany has.
Ukraine’s relations with Hungary are arguably Kiev’s worst with any EU member, with politicians from both countries spending years attacking one another, with the roots of the bad blood lying in a series of language laws introduced by Kiev’s successive nationalist governments depriving Hungarian-Ukrainians in the western part of the country of receiving education in their native language. Hungary’s attempts to maintain cordial business-like ties with Russia has served to escalate the conflict, particularly after Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine in February.
Late last month, an adviser to Ukraine’s energy minister suggested that “something” should happen to the massive pipeline carrying Russian oil through Ukraine to Hungary to teach Prime Minister Viktor Orban a lesson in a “language he understands” over his intransigence on EU sanctions.
Also last month, Orban’s name appeared on the Security Service of Ukraine-curated website Myrotvorets, which publishes the personal information of so-called “enemies of Ukraine”, some of whom have subsequently been assassinated.