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Government not to approve EU funding until OTP Bank is removed from Ukraine blacklist

Hungary's government will not approve any more European Union funding for arms deliveries to Ukraine until Kyiv removes OTP Bank from its list of international war sponsors, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Tuesday.
4. July 2023 17:43

Answering a question at a press conference following a meeting of the Hungarian-Jordanian mixed economic committee, Szijjarto called it “outrageous, unacceptable and scandalous” that the Ukrainian authorities had added Hungary’s biggest commercial bank with some three million clients to a list of war sponsors for “deceitful and ridiculous reasons”.

“We really do feel at times that they’re messing with us, and the reason we don’t say this more often is because there’s a war going on next door, and in a situation like this one must choose their words wisely,” Szijjarto said.

“But the fact that we’re doing everything we can to help the Ukrainian people and that Hungarians are the ones paying the price of a war they have nothing to do with and the reaction is that they blacklist Hungary’s biggest bank is taking it much too far,” he said.

The minister said he “doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry” at Ukraine’s arguments for including OTP on the list. “We’d love to laugh, because the things they bring up are ridiculous, but since the situation is serious, we’re horrified instead,” he said.

“So our position is clear: until OTP is removed from the list, Hungary will not approve any further European Union funding for weapons deliveries to Ukraine,” he said.

“It’s not just the 500 million euros we’ve just blocked that we won’t approve, but it’s best if they don’t submit any further proposals for funding further weapons deliveries,” Szijjarto said.

Concerning the ratification of Sweden’s NATO accession, he said the decision was “entirely in the hands of lawmakers”, noting that the government had submitted the proposal long ago.

The foreign minister said he had held consultations with his Turkish counterpart on multiple occasions in recent days and had been told that “communication will remain close”, as Ankara will continue talking with Sweden and NATO.

“If there is any change, we will, of course, keep our promise that Hungary will not delay the accession of any country,” he added.

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