20 Jul

The government is not willing to negotiate on the proposed €500 million to finance arms supplies to Ukraine, which has been blocked so far, or on the proposed €20 billion until Kiev removes OTP from the list of international sponsors of the war, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó warned in Brussels on Thursday.

According to a statement by the Foreign Ministry, the minister stressed during the break of the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting that the atmosphere in Brussels is still one of war, and there was no talk of peace this time either. In fact, a proposal was put forward under which the bloc would spend 20 billion euros on arms supplies to Ukraine over the next four years, of which roughly 200 million euros would be the share Hungary.

"What is the European Union saying? That it will be a state of war for another four years anyway. So now Brussels is not only not thinking about peace in the short term, but is also envisaging a war in Europe in the long term," he said.

"This proposal is shocking (...) Well, the question rightly arises as to how many people will die in the four years that we are financing arms shipments with €20 billion. And how many Hungarians will die in those four years?" he asked.

He underlined that the last five hundred days have proven that there is no solution to this conflict on the battlefield, and the more weapons are shipped, the higher the death toll will be. "We are therefore asking Brussels, Berlin, Paris and Washington to bring peace to our neighbours rather than weapons," he said.

Szijjártó recalled that so far €5.6 billion from the European Peace Facility had been used to finance arms supplies and that another €500 million was now to be approved, but the government would not contribute to this until Ukraine removed OTP, the largest Hungarian bank, from the list of international sponsors of the war.

"We are not prepared to negotiate on either the €500 million blocked so far or the €20 billion now being brought forward as long as OTP is on the list of international sponsors of the war," he said.

"Not to mention the fact that the European Commission recently admitted that it has run out of money and asked for another €50 billion to support Ukraine. Now they are asking for €20 billion for arms supplies, so we are talking about €70 billion, and there is no accounting, no statement of the money spent so far," he added.

In addition, he pointed out that last year the 100 largest Western-owned companies paid USD 3.5 billion in corporate taxes in Russia, while OTP, which has a 0.16% share of the Russian banking market, was blacklisted in Ukraine.

The minister also pointed out that some participants had criticised the Central European countries for imposing restrictions on imports of Ukrainian grain.

He stressed that the agreement was to allow grain to be shipped from Ukraine to Africa and the Middle East to prevent humanitarian crises, not to sell the crops in Central Europe.

"I rejected in the strongest possible terms any accusations that denounces Central Europeans that we were blocking any kind of shipments," he said, pointing out that Hungary had even made infrastructure investments to expand trans-shipment capacity.

"Hungary remains ready, together with the other Central European countries, to allow Ukrainian grain shipments to pass through its territory, but there is no question of selling them in Hungary and destroying our food market," he underlined.

In response to a journalist's question on the European Parliament's resolution on the abolition of the veto right of Member States, Szijjártó stressed that under the treaties, all parties must agree on decisions in strategic matters.

"And those who are calling us to account for European values, those who are calling us to account for the rule of law and respect for treaties, would now suddenly rewrite the treaties out of their own interests without any problems," he said.

He reacted in a similar way to the protests against next year's Hungarian EU presidency, saying that the rotating order of office was predetermined.

"And these rules say nothing about the need for the rotating presidency to agree with a percentage of the issues dictated by the big member states or every move of the liberal mainstream. That is what the European Union is about, we are diverse," he said.