Hungary Stands in Opposition to New EU Sanctions and Military Aid to Ukraine

On May 22, 2023, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto announced that Hungary opposes several significant provisions in the 11th package of sanctions on Russia that the European Commission crafted. On top of that, Hungary will not support supplying any further military assistance from the European Peace Facility until its OTP Bank is removed from Ukraine’s list of international war sponsors.

He recalled that EU nations want to bolster military aid to Ukraine from the European Peace Facility to the clip of 500 million euros. “We demand the Ukrainians remove OTP from the list of international war sponsors. Until that happens, we will not give our consent to allocate these 500 million euro to EU countries as compensation for their spending on weapons to Ukraine,” the Hungarian Foreign Minister said to Hungarian journalists during a recess of the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

On May 4, Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention placed Hungary’s OTP Bank Group, which continues operating in Russia, on the list of international sponsors of war. Szijjarto criticized Ukraine’s decision as “scandalous and unacceptable.”

As of May 22, he emphasized, Hungary’s largest bank, OTP, “had not violated a single national or international law” and its blacklisting in Ukraine is an illegal move.

The leading Hungarian diplomat also noted that the Ukrainian government was against weapons being sent to Ukraine in general and would firmly stand behind this position. “Weapons supplies are fraught with the risk of escalating the war and the longer this war continues, the more people will die,” he emphasized.

Tackling the issue of the 11th package of anti-Russian sanctions, which was also discussed by EU foreign ministers, the Hungarian minister highlighted, “Brussels should have learned a lesson from the consequences of the sanctions.”

“Sanctions are more harmful to Europe than they are to Russia and I think that the 10th package of sanctions should not be followed by an 11th, which would turn out to be a true test for Europe in general and the economy of European countries,” he stated. Furthermore, he highlighted how Hungary opposed further restrictions for European companies on their ability to trade in Russian goods, in addition to sanctions on Chinese companies suspected of working with Russia.

He also emphasized that Hungary will stand against any EU sanctions that would limit cooperation with Russia in the nuclear energy sector. “Despite the pressure that’s being exerted on us, we will strongly oppose any kind of sanctions affecting the nuclear industry, because that concerns Hungary’s energy security. In no case will we risk the security of Hungary’s energy supply,” he stated.

Additionally, Szijjarto made it clear that Hungary will continue demanding that Ukrainian authorities restore the rights of ethnic Hungarians living in the Zakarpattia Region. Until this issue is sorted out, Hungary will oppose Ukraine’s aspirations to join the European Union. 

In a sane world, the likes of Peter Szijjarto would be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to bring an end to the Russo-Ukrainian conflict. Alas, we don’t live in such a world since Western politics is completely dominated by neoconservative/neoliberal interventionists. 

And we’re much worse for it. 

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