For the second consecutive year, autumn is contentious for Ukraine- Hungary relations. Last year the states could not find common ground due to Ukraine’s new "language policy," now the situation has been significantly aggravated by even more sensitive issue – dual citizenship
100 thousand people loyal to Hungary: How it began
Ukraine is a multiethnic state, and this is not a secret. Its territory is inhabited by Ukrainians, Russians, Byelorussians, Moldovans, Crimean Tatars, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Romanians, Poles, and other ethnic groups.
Regardless of nationality, the rights of all citizens of Ukraine are equally protected by the current legislation, but every year under the sensitive leadership of neighboring countries, ethnic minorities are striving for ever greater liberties.
Hungary is particularly successful in this issue; from time to time, it supplies the Zakarpattia region (the heart of the Hungarian diaspora in Ukraine) with passports and stands (unofficially) for the creation of its autonomy in the state.
Budapest draws attention to the fact that citizenship and the second passport are the foundation of the unity of the Hungarian nation, ties of foreign Hungarians with their homeland, and autonomy is a means of protecting the interests of the Hungarian community in the Ukrainian parliament. Kyiv considers such a position as a threat to the territorial integrity of Ukraine, its sovereignty and the Constitution, since it already has a bitter experience with its northern neighbor – obtaining Russian passports preceded the annexation of Crimea and the armed conflict in Donbas.
Until recently, these disagreements were resolved only in words: Budapest secretly gave out a certain number of passports to Ukrainian citizens of Hungarian origin, or certain politicians allowed themselves to make some statements about the creation of autonomies. Official Kyiv has learned about this, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed protests, and the Hungarian party allegedly accepted this is taken into account, and any sanctions were imposed.
So, according to the Zakarpattia Regional State Administration, in recent years, about 100,000 inhabitants of the region have received Hungarian citizenship, pledging fealty to the neighboring state.
The situation has worsened
Today the situation is completely different, and as Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin has made clear, the retaliatory measures would be taken.
A video appeared on the network, showing how the citizens of Ukraine receive the second citizenship in the Hungarian consulate in Berehove (Zakarpattia region). First, the embassy officials issue a passport, and then an oath of allegiance to the neighboring state is heard. The ceremony ends with drinking champagne. In addition, the consul advises newly-appeared "double citizens" to conceal from the Ukrainian authorities the fact of receiving a Hungarian passport.
In particular, the head of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed that Ukraine was aware of Hungary’s periodical “passportization” of Zakarpattia, and warned of responsibility. Then they had no evidence for retaliatory measures, but now the evidence is obvious.
The Hungarian party continues to insist on the absence of violations on its part, allegedly Ukrainian legislation does not provide for a clear legal ban on “second citizenship,” and Ukrainian Hungarians do not use the Hungarian passport in Ukraine, only outside it.
Dual citizenship: What Ukrainian legislation says?
According to Art. 4 of the Constitution of Ukraine: There is unique citizenship in Ukraine. The grounds of acquisition and stopping of citizenship of Ukraine are determined by a law.
But the Hungarians persuade this also does not directly mean that Ukrainians are forbidden to have citizenship of other states. This wording means that the second citizenship and documents confirming it in Ukraine will be deemed not valid.
Ukraine’s law "On Citizenship" gives the following definition: "If a citizen of Ukraine has acquired the citizenship of another state or states, then he is recognized only as a citizen of Ukraine in legal relations with Ukraine. If a foreigner acquired the citizenship of Ukraine, then in legal relations with Ukraine he is recognized only as a citizen of Ukraine." However, by acquiring the citizenship of another state, a person can lose the Ukrainian one. Only notification can be considered a ground for termination of Ukrainian citizenship, it does not happen automatically. The second citizenship in Ukraine is not recognized, but there is no punishment for the corresponding violation. Therefore, it is often found that citizens have several passports.
Two, three, four passports per person
The practice of the dual (multiple) citizenships is currently used by many countries. For example, the UK has a treaty on mutual recognition of citizenship with Canada, India, Australia, and others, France - with Canada, Portugal - with Brazil, Spain - with a number of Latin American countries.
Most of all, it is opposed by the African states and the countries of Asia. For example, dual citizenship is prohibited in Japan, China, India, Thailand, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Angola, Congo, Botswana.
In red are countries, where dual citizenship is prohibited, in green - dual citizenship is allowed, gray - no data
At the same time, each country has its own position regarding the second, third and other citizenship. Some of them grant their citizenship only by receiving a certificate of renunciation of another citizenship (for example, Germany), in the legislation of others, as in Ukrainian, the second citizenship is not directly prohibited, but is also not recognized.
In a number of countries in the Caribbean, a second passport can be obtained in exchange for investments in the country's economy (from $ 100,000). Similar offers are used by some EU countries, but the cost of granting citizenship is much higher there. For example, the passport of Malta will cost more than 1 million euros.
By the way, Hungary allows dual citizenship only for those foreigners who receive it for investment, but ethnic Hungarians, citizens of other states, can obtain a Hungarian passport in a simplified procedure, which came into effect in 2011.
To do obtain it, they need to apply for citizenship and register after an interview with a representative of the Hungarian state, which, among other things, will check the knowledge of the Hungarian language. An applicant needs to bring a completed questionnaire, an autobiography and, most importantly, proof of his ethnicity.
Like in Ukraine, Hungarian citizenship is formally granted and deprived of by the president, but this procedure involves a long vertical. Based on the documents on acquired citizenship, a person can apply for the issuance of both a Hungarian internal passport, which has the form of an ID-card and a Hungarian foreign passport (Útlevél). The latter is of particular interest to Ukrainian citizens because it gives the right to visa-free trips to the US or free employment in any of the EU countries.
In addition, ethnic Hungarians can formalize an official residence permit in Hungary and preserve their Ukrainian registration. This is done mainly for the sake of social payments, primarily grants and pensions. Or in order to register a car with Hungarian car plates and avoid crossing the border every five days.
Priorities and perspective: How to solve the problem of dual citizenship
Experts believe that in order to overcome once and for all the dual citizenship challenge, Ukraine must first clearly state the rules on entry and exit from citizenship. Since May 1, 2016, according to the law "On Civil Service," a civil servant who has a different citizenship, other than Ukrainian, cannot claim civil service. This is justified by the fact that citizens of other countries should not have access to state secrets.
However, it is also known that media often publish information that some mayors, people’s deputies, and officials, having two or more foreign passports, are running for elections, hold high posts and benefit from their situation.
Also, experts add, Ukraine cannot ignore developing a single long-term policy in this field. That is, the state should clearly formulate whether it recognizes the dual citizenship as legal or not. How to deal with millions of Ukrainians who have gone abroad - to the US, Canada, Italy, Spain, and Poland? Maybe, Ukraine should sign the bilateral agreements with some countries or start attracting investments in exchange for granting one's citizenship.
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