Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: Elements hurting Hungarian interests ‘weeded out’ of sanctions package

All elements of the European Union's 13th package of sanctions against Russia that would harm Hungarians interests "have been weeded out", Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in Brussels on Monday.

The package was “for show” and did not promote peace, Szijjarto told a press conference after a meeting of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council. The only reason for the new sanctions in the process of being finalised “is that the bloc can now say they did something ahead of the second anniversary of the war”, he added.

In the past weeks, the Hungarian government “has weeded out the measures that may have harmed Hungarian interests,” he said, according to a ministry statement.

Hungary’s fundamental economic interests are not harmed by the package, he said. “But there is a bigger problem: the EU is further pursuing a completely failed strategy, which takes us farther away from peace rather than taking us nearer,” he said.

Hungary will continue to strip any elements that may harm its interests, should further sanctions be proposed, he added.

“The sanctions packages have harmed European competitiveness while improving that of other players in the world economy. That’s a double failure, double disadvantage and double mistake. It would be good if colleagues in Brussels could draw the conclusions,” he said.

He said the EU was “still gripped by war psychosis”, and the majority refused to change its failed strategy.

“It has become clear that there is no solution to the situation on the battlefield,” he said.

“Ukraine is now drafting younger and younger conscripts, which raises the question: who is going to survive this war, who will participate in Ukraine’s reconstruction?”

He urged a ceasefire and peace talks. Hungary has once again refused to take part in delivering weapons to Ukraine, he added.

According to one proposal, the European Peace Facility would be extended by another five billion euros to finance military equipment, he said.

“We made it clear we wouldn’t participate in joint actions aimed at weapons deliveries, and will refrain from blocking such a decision only if it does not impose any duties on us, financial or otherwise,” he said.

Szijjarto said that thanks to a change in the rules of abstention, Hungary’s part of those five billion euros would not finance materiel.

Hungary will have the opportunity to determine the use of those monies, which could be ploughed into the fight against migration or strengthening stability in the Western Balkans, he said.

While Hungary will not stop other member states in making their own decisions, the government thinks weapon deliveries would only prolong war and suffering, he said.

Szijjarto also touched on upcoming talks on the extension of tariff exemptions on Ukrainian produce. Hungary’s government has banned 23 Ukrainian types of produce on its own authority and will maintain that ban should the measure be extended beyond June, he said.

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