Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: Hungary not to ‘give in to pressure’

The Hungarian government will "continue to make its decisions in line with European and national values" and "will not give in to pressure from anyone, whether in the form of bribery or pledges," Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Facebook on Monday.

Ahead of “historic meetings affecting Europe’s future” to be held in Brussels this week, Szijjarto said there were signs of “appalling political and media pressure”. “The European political and media elite obviously mixes up completely different dimensions trying to resolve historical and strategic issues through tactical deals,” he said, but added “they will not succeed, obviously, we will not give our consent.”

Debates between foreign ministers of the EU and in the general affairs council will focus on Ukraine, he said, adding that “a large part of EU politicians seek to pass decisions that are largely unprepared for and lack a strategic consensus.”

Speaking at a press conference after a meeting of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council, Szijjarto said was under “tremendous political and media pressure” to approve the start of EU accession talks with Ukraine “despite the situation not being suitable for this right now”.

According to a ministry statement, Szijjarto said the pressure on Hungary was “unacceptable”, and he vowed that the country would not give up its national interests or the right to make its own sovereign decisions.

“We don’t accept being pressured, and we’ll also resist any attempts at blackmail…” Szijjarto said. “And I’d like to make it clear that we continue to refuse to conflate historical-strategic and tactical dimensions.”

“This is not a tactical position on our part,” he said, arguing that the question of when Ukraine could begin accession talks would have “serious historic consequences, too”.

The minister said any decision in connection with Ukraine’s potential accession talks could only be made after a preparatory phase, adding however that the conditions for these preparations were not in place.

He said the European Commission’s assessment that Ukraine had met four of the seven pre-conditions for talks was incorrect.

Hungary, he said, supported looking at mutually beneficial ways to enhance cooperation with Ukraine, adding that EU membership was not the only option. Deciding on starting accession talks now would be “irresponsible”, Szijjarto said, arguing that it was impossible to know the effects of such a decision.

He cited the effects of the EU’s resolutions on opening transit corridors for Ukrainian grain and exempting Ukrainian hauliers from seeking permits before entering bloc, saying the EU “could not salvage what was salvageable”.

Meanwhile, he said the Hungarian government had still not approved allocating an additional 500 million euros from the European Peace Facility for weapons deliveries to Ukraine, arguing that Kyiv’s list of international war sponsors still contained Hungarian entities and individuals, mainly linked to OTP Bank.

Asked to comment on Ukraine’s amended law on minorities, Szijjarto said Hungary and Transcarpathian ethnic Hungarian organisations would assess the legislation, adding it was already clear that it had failed not restore the rights minorities had been gradually stripped of since 2015.

Meanwhile, Szijjarto said that on Monday afternoon, he will meet his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, and Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister for Euro-Atlantic integration.

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