Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: Hungary under pressure ‘from east, south’

Hungary is "under simultaneous pressure from the east and from the south", the foreign minister told public Kossuth Radio.

Peter Szijjarto said that some 12,000-13,000 refugees were arriving daily from war-stricken Ukraine, adding that “when fleeing from war, you cannot go anywhere but to a neighbouring country”. On the other hand, migrants at Hungary’s southern borders “have no right to cross” since they “violated the borders of several safe countries including Serbia and Hungary”. Hungary will maintain strict border controls, therefore “there is a great need” to set up an independent force for that purpose, he said.

Besides the east, NATO should also focus on challenges in the south, with special regard to an increasing threat of terrorism, and a possible famine due to interrupted grain supplies from Ukraine, which could trigger “unprecedented” waves of migration, Szijjarto warned.

“Peace is in Hungary’s interest in every possible aspect,” the minister said, adding that “each minute of the war in Ukraine poses a security threat”. The Hungarian military, therefore, needs to be developed, “to which end defence spending will reach 2 percent of GDP next year”, he said.

An atmosphere of war has overtaken NATO, Szijjarto said but added that “luckily the position prevails that everything must be done to avoid a direct conflict between NATO and Russia”. He called it a “wise decision” that NATO as an alliance will not send weapons to Ukraine “as that would threaten an even greater tragedy”.

Concerning energy, Szijjarto said that in view of “energy prices earlier thought inconcieavable” those countries will be safe in future that are able to produce sufficient energy for their own consumption. The upgrade of the Paks nuclear plant “will be of tremendous help” to Hungary, he added.

The Hungarian government is “continously speeding up the project” so that the two new blocks could start production in 2030, Szijjarto said, adding that the upgraded plant and solar developments would bring the country “very near to self-sustenance” in terms of electricity.

Construction at Paks is not hindered by European sanctions against Russia, as peaceful use of nuclear energy is “not impacted in any way” by those restrictions, Szijjarto said.

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