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Szijjarto: Progress cannot be made in financing arms deliveries as long as OTP blacklisted in Ukraine

The government is not willing to participate in talks concerning the financing of arms deliveries to Ukraine as long as Hungary's OTP Bank is blacklisted in Ukraine because it appears on a list of the international sponsors of war, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Thursday.

Szijjarto said during a break at the meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels that under a new proposal, the bloc would spend 20 billion euros on arms deliveries to Ukraine in the next four years, of which around 200 million euros would be Hungary’s participation.

Szijjarto said the proposal was shocking because it showed that Brussels was envisioning war in the long term. The past five hundred days have proven that this conflict cannot be resolved in the battlefield and the more weapons are supplied, the more people will die, he added.

He said some 5.6 billion euros had already been spent from the European Peace Facility on arms deliveries for Ukraine and another 500 million euros is planned to be approved.

“We are not willing to engage in talks of any kind in terms of the already blocked 500 million euros, nor in terms of the newly proposed 20 billion euros, as long as OTP stays on the list of international sponsors of war,” he said.

“Not to mention the fact that the European Commission has recently admitted that it had run out of money and asked for an additional 50 billion euros for supporting Ukraine,” he said. “Now they are also asking for 20 billion euros for arms deliveries, so we are talking about 70 billion euros, without any financial records or audits shown on how money has been spent so far,” he added.

He also said that while the one hundred largest western-owned companies paid 3.5 billion dollars in corporate tax in Russia last year, Hungary’s OTP which holds a 0.16 percent share of the Russian banking markets has been blacklisted.

On another subject, Szijjarto said participants in the meeting had “somewhat” criticised central European countries for restricting Ukrainian grain imports. He said the original agreement had been aimed to facilitate shipments from Ukraine to Africa and the Middle East to prevent humanitarian crises rather than “selling those products in central Europe”. He said he had refuted claims at the meeting that central European countries had blocked the shipments, adding that “Hungary has even made infrastructural investments to increase reloading capacities”. “Hungary will continue to allow for a transit of Ukrainian grain but it must not be sold in Hungary destroying our food market,” he insisted.

Concerning a European Parliamentary position suggesting removal of members’ veto rights, Szijjarto said “on strategic issues each member must be in consensus under the EU treaties … those that hold us to account over European values, the rule of law, or respect for the treaties would rewrite those treaties just like that.”

Szijjarto also dismissed protests against Hungary’s upcoming EU presidency, and said the rotation of presidents “have been predetermined”. The EU’s rotating president “need not agree with a certain percentage of the issues pressed by the large countries or approve of every move by the liberal mainstream … the EU is about that: we are all different,” he said.

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