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Szijjarto: Hungary not to approve next EPF tranche to Ukraine unless OTP removed from war-sponsors list

The Hungarian government will not grant its approval to the next tranche of the European Peace Facility to Ukraine unless Hungary's OTP bank is removed from Ukraine's list of war sponsors, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in Vienna on Wednesday.

For the same reason as well as because of restrictions concerning Chinese investments the government will not support any further sanctions against Russia, Szijjarto added.

Following a working lunch with Alexander Schallenberg, his Austrian counterpart, Szijjarto said “further, serious proposals have been tabled in Brussels, expecting European people to take further sacrifices while they would not bring peace a centimetre closer”.

Szijjarto said the EU’s planned eleventh package of sanctions was “fully contrary to commonsense”, and insisted that the previous ten had failed. He raised serious concern about the EU’s mulling measures against eight Chinese companies which could “certainly aggravate or even thwart” ties with China, and could “lead to a certain negative spiral of reactions”.

Since we have “practically severed ties of cooperation between the EU and Russia one by one, we would consider it extremely harmful … if the same happened to Europe-China ties,” he said. He added that Europe would “certainly lose” on rivalry with China and called for cooperation instead. “Hungary is an excellent example of how much could be benefitted from a civilised cooperation with China,” he said.

Concerning the proposal to use another 500 million euros from the EPF on the delivery of weapons for Ukraine, Szijjarto said it would “mostly increase the risk of escalation”. “They expect us to endure further economic damage while Ukraine is becoming more and more hostile with Hungary, taking hostile decisions and measures including serious threats voiced in recent days,” the minister said.

For example, Szijjarto said schools of the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia would “cease to exist in their current form” as of September. “We have signalled the problem at all forums of decision making … and with a few exceptions the international institutions and players of international politics turn a blind eye to it,” he said.

Ukraine’s including OTP in a list of war sponsors is “scandalous, unacceptable”, Szijjarto said, and suggested that the bank had not violated any rules. He also referred to press reports suggesting that the Ukrainian president had proposed sabotaging the Druzhba oil pipeline, and called a “clear attack against Hungary’s sovereignty”.

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