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Szijjarto: ‘Witch hunt’ against Hungarian companies ongoing in Ukraine

The "witch hunt" against Hungarian companies in Ukraine is ongoing as authorities were preparing to withdraw the permits of a dozen pharmaceuticals sold by Hungarian pharmaceutical company Richter, the Hungarian minister of foreign affairs and trade said on Monday.

Peter Szijjarto told a press conference on the sidelines of the EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg that the bloc was “preparing for a world war” and putting enormous pressure on Hungary in the process. Besides the 500 million in aid to Ukraine, “which Hungary blocked”, the EU was planning to fund member states’ weapon deliveries with another 1.5 billion euros from the European Peace Facility, he said.

“Hungary’s stance is unchanged and clear: until we receive a guarantee from the Ukrainian side that they will end the witch hunt against Hungarian companies active in Ukraine — and will not restart it — we cannot contribute to such decisions,” he said.

Noting that Ukraine had earlier black-listed OTP Bank as an international sponsor of the war, Szijjarto said discrimination against Hungarian companies was unacceptable and the procedures were unfounded.

“Just as the OTP issue seems to be solved”, Kyiv is preparing to withdraw permits on the sale of Richter’s 14 pharmaceuticals in the country, he said. That procedure was similarly unfounded, he said.

“Richter has not breached any rules or sanctions in Ukraine … conducting operations in Russia does not violate any laws. The pharmaceutical industry is not in any way under sanctions.”

The minister noted that when they asked Ukrainian government to remove OTP from the list, they were told the matter was independent of politics. Later, the government decided to scrap the list altogether, which “dented” the argument’s credibility, he said.

Szijjarto said that since it appeared that a political decision had been made rather than a professional one, the danger of a similar measure being repeated was real.

“That’s why we have asked our Ukrainian colleagues to … come to Budapest, sit down and work out a solution… So far, the Ukrainian anti-corruption agency has not responded positively to our invitation. We are still waiting for them in Budapest, our colleagues are ready, so it is not up to us whether such an agreement is reached or not,” he added.

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