Over the last five years, Hungarian-Ukrainian bilateral relations have been experiencing the deepest systemic crisis since the establishment of diplomatic in the early 1990s. This crisis is built on a series of disputes that have remained unresolved, without decisions, for decades, with constructive dialogue under the aegis of dry neighborly diplomacy being recently replaced with constant tensions around very sensitive topics such as minority rights, Hungarian separatism, interference into internal affairs, double play in Russia’s favor, etc.
Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine escalated this crisis, in particular because of appeasing politics of Viktor Orbán towards Russia and its ambitions in Europe. During and after the 2022 Hungarian parliamentary campaign, which overlapped with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, bilateral relations between Kyiv and Budapest encountered yet another whirlpool of tension exchanging mutual insults and accusations. Additionally, Russia organized and conducted several hostile and false-flag operations stoking tensions between Ukraine and Hungary.
Thus, after the elections, the heavy baggage of previous bilateral problems was compounded by new ones. Personal accusations at the level of country leaders and MFA ministers, who are responsible for foreign affairs from both sides, weighed particularly heavily.
However, unexpected full Hungarian support of Ukraine’s EU candidacy despite months of tensions has led to some sort of “détente”, providing an opportunity for both sides to change the narratives and direction of relations.
In this report three main scenarios on how Ukrainian-Hungarian relations could develop in the short and middle term perspective are described and justified, as well as recommendations how these relations could be improved or at least prevented from further deteriorating.
Institute for Central European Strategy
"Election Monitoring in Hungary and its Diaspora" research is conducted with the support of the International Republican Institute's Beacon Project. It is conducted in Hungary and select countries with a significant Hungarian diaspora: Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine. The opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not reflect those of IRI.