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BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary's foreign minister said on Tuesday Ukraine's decision to bar the entry of two Hungarian government officials over what it called meddling in local elections was "pathetic and nonsense".

In a video message on his Facebook page, Peter Szijjarto said Budapest had not received formal notice of the Ukrainian ban.

In the video, Szijjarto welcomed the victory of Hungarian candidates in Ukrainian local elections, which he said meant Hungarians' opinion would have to be considered for the future of the region bordering Hungary, which has a large ethnic Hungarian minority.

He said Ukraine had taken "unfriendly steps" towards Hungary, by summoning the Hungarian ambassador and deciding to ban the entry of the two officials.

"With this Ukraine sends the message ... that it has given up on Hungarian support for its euroatlantic integration efforts," Szijjarto said.

It was not the first time that Hungary has hinted at blocking Ukraine’s membership of NATO.

The two countries have repeatedly clashed in the past years over what Hungary said were curbs on the rights of roughly 150,000 ethnic Hungarians to use their native tongue, especially in education, after Ukraine passed a law in 2017 restricting the use of minority languages in schools.

Ukraine's foreign ministry said on Monday it had handed the Hungarian ambassador a note of protest for what it described as political agitation by Hungarian officials in favour of a party that contested Saturday's elections in Ukraine.

(Reporting by Krisztina Than and Anita Komuves; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Robert Birsel)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

Tags: Ukraine, European Union, Europe

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Trump will campaign for Georgia GOP Senate candidates, urges supporters not to boycott runoff elections

Hundreds of Trump supporters and gather near the Capitol Building for the Stop the Steal Rally in Atlanta, GA. as well as counter protesters in Atlanta, GA.Jason Armond | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

President Donald Trump, who has blamed his loss to President-elect Joe Biden on false claims that the U.S. voting system was "rigged," urged his supporters on Friday not to boycott two all-important Georgia runoff elections that will determine which party controls the Senate.

With Democrats poised to take the White House and hold onto their House majority, the Senate has become the last bastion for Republicans to keep a check on the power of the lower chamber and the executive branch.

But the GOP's hold on the Senate depends on winning at least one of Georgia's two runoffs. Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler face competitive challenges from Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively. Georgia election rules called for runoff races when no candidate exceeded 50% of voter share in either race during the Nov. 3 general election.

In response to Newsmax reporting that Georgia Trump supporters are considering boycotting the runoff elections over voter fraud claims, the president wrote on Twitter: "We must get out and help David and Kelly, two GREAT people," even as he again asserted, without evidence, that the election was a "total scam."

Trump will travel to Georgia on Dec. 5 to campaign for Perdue and Loeffler, according to White House spokesman Judd Deere.

The president's persistent attacks on election integrity could impact the outcome of the January runoffs, GOP strategist and pollster Frank Luntz told CNBC.

"If he continues to disillusion voters ... by saying that the elections were rigged and that your vote doesn't matter, this could have severe consequences for the administration in trying to keep those two seats Republican," Luntz said on CNBC's "Squawk Box" Monday.

"I would argue that what Donald Trump says, and does, over the next six weeks is going to determine the outcome of the Georgia Senate race and well may determine the outcome of our country overall," Luntz said.

Trump's campaign said Saturday it would seek a second recount of election results paid for by taxpayer-funded local jurisdictions.

The secretary of state of Georgia on Nov. 20 officially certified the results of its presidential election race after a full hand recount of votes, confirming that Biden beat Trump by more than 12,000 votes. Biden is the first Democrat to win Georgia's presidential race since 1992.

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