Hungarian minister cancels visit due to Foreign Ministry sanctions

Foreign Ministry employees, as part of a prolonged labor dispute, refuse to deal with visits by foreign dignitaries.

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem 311 (R) (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem 311 (R)
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
Hungarian Human Resources Minister Zoltan Balog is the first foreign dignitary to fall victim to the five-month-old Foreign Ministry work sanctions, announcing the postponement of his trip because of the work dispute.
Balog, whose ministry is responsible for the healthcare system, education and cultural issues, was scheduled to arrive on Sunday for a three-day trip.
Even as Balog canceled, however, Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili will arrive as planned on Monday for a two-day visit.
He will not, though, be accompanied by Israel’s envoy to Georgia, Yuval Fuchs, who is unable to accompany Ivanishvili because of the work dispute.
The workers are engaged in a prolonged labor dispute for better salary and work conditions.
They have increasingly ratcheted up sanctions, and last week declared they would no longer deal with the visits of foreign dignitaries.
On Sunday they also announced they would no longer be providing any consular services abroad to either Israelis or non-Israelis, including the issuing of visas, work permits, or emergency passports.
Balog was scheduled to meet with Education Minister Shai Piron and Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat, and to sign an action plan on cultural cooperation.
A statement issued by the Foreign Ministry’s worker’s committee said there would likely be “many mix-ups” for any official delegations visiting the country without Foreign Ministry assistance.
The statement called upon Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is also the foreign minister, to act immediately “to save Israelis’ foreign service.”
In January 2011, then Russian president Dmitry Medvedev was also forced to cancel a trip to Israel because of another Foreign Ministry work sanction at that time.