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Kazakh Protests Are Attempt to Break the Country’s Constitutional Order, Says Szijjártó

picture of Péter Szijjártó

EU foreign ministers are discussing this week how to react to the crackdown on protests in Kazakhstan. Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó (pictured) has already assessed the situation, and declared it an attempt to break the constitutional order through a well-coordinated attack.

Speaking on French TV and quoted in Euractiv, Clément Beaune, State Secretary in the French Ministry of European Affairs, said the following:

Foreign Ministers from European Union member states are discussing the measures this week that the EU will communicate to Kazakhstan, that you can’t beat up people who protest and rebel against the cost of living.

France, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, is planning to hold an informal meeting for EU foreign and defense ministers on Thursday and Friday, January 13-14. Euractiv claims that nearly 8,000 people in Kazakhstan have been detained in the disturbances so far.

The protests erupted after Kazakh authorities lifted the officially-set price of liquified natural gas, which nearly doubled within a short period of time.

The government eventually resigned over the issue, but the protests have not subsided. Protesters are also demanding the departure of Nursultan Nazarbayev, who ruled the country in a “soft” dictatorship structure for three decades until his resignation in 2019, but has continued to wield enormous influence.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has requested and received military assistance from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a group of post-Soviet states led by Russia. Tokayev also took over the leadership of the security council from Nazarbayev, who has reportedly fled Kazakhstan with his family, although he himself announced through his press secretary that he was still in Kazakhstan’s capital, Nur-Sultan.

Szijjártó May View the Situation Differently From Other EU Foreign Ministers

The official Kazakh position is that the violent demonstrations were a result of “bandits” and “foreign terrorists” who stormed the country, taking over buildings and setting them on fire. According to reports, President Tokayev ordered the Kazakh army to fire at will on the protesters on Friday.

EU foreign ministers, however, are more likely to view the Kazakh situation as a violent crackdown on protesters holding legitimate grievances, but at least one of them appears to prefer the official Kazah version of events.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, who received an honorary doctorate from the Gumilyov Eurasian National University of Nur-Sultan in April 2020, took to Facebook on Monday in a video to give an update on the status of getting Hungarians out of the Central European nation. He stated that the Russians had already evacuated six persons, who the Hungarian Defense Forces will bring home from Russia.

But Szijjártó also spoke on the nature of the protests themselves, saying in the video that protesters had attempted to “overthrow the constitutional order in Kazakhstan,” and was a “well-coordinated attack on the Kazakh state itself.”

The Foreign Minister also said that the Hungarian Prime Minister had spoken to President Tokayev, expressed his sympathy to him, and offered Hungary’s help.

Before the EU meeting, Szijjártó will take part in a separate meeting on the situation in Kazakhstan today. According to Szijjártó, foreign ministers from the Organization of Turkic States will have a video conference on the matter, and the Foreign Minister plans to represent Hungary as an observer.

[Azonnali][Photo: Péter Szijjártó / Facebook]

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Posted in European Union

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