Hungary’s position about future of Europe, Szijjarto tells LCI
Hungary’s “very principled position”, Szijjarto said, was that European Union accession talks should only start with countries that are prepared and only if the EU itself was prepared. “And we don’t see either of these two when it comes to Ukraine,” he added.
The minister said Hungary had often been accused of using its position on Ukraine as a tactic to gain access to the EU funds that have been withheld from the country, but this was not the case. Hungary’s position, he said was that the European Commission had not prepared the issues concerning Ukraine properly.
He noted that the Hungarian government had condemned Russia’s war against Ukraine on multiple occasions and stood by Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Hungary, he added, had accepted over a million refugees from Ukraine and 1,300 schools in Hungary had welcomed Ukrainian refugee students. Hungary, Szijjarto said, was also undertaking the largest humanitarian operation in its history in connection with Ukraine.
Szijjarto said Hungary was “absolutely in favour” of tighter and more effective cooperation between the EU and Ukraine and was arguing in favour of a discussion among EU member states on the bloc’s strategic vision concerning the future of the relationship between the EU and Ukraine. “But we don’t see that accession talks would be the appropriate milestone now,” he added.
Put to him that the Hungarian government was in the minority with this position in the EU, Szijjarto said Hungary was not influenced by the positions of other member states because it respected those positions and wanted its own position to be respected as well.
He said there were certain issues in the EU that required unanimity. “And as long as there’s no unanimity, there’s no decision.”
Asked about relations between Hungary and Russia, Szijjarto said the country had a very rational cooperation with Russia on energy, adding that energy security was in Hungary’s national interest. And energy security, he added, was determined by infrastructure. If gas flows from Russia towards Hungary were interrupted, it would be physically impossible to guarantee Hungary’s energy supply, the minister said, adding that no one could expect Hungary to render its own energy security impossible.
Asked if Moscow could threaten EU member states after Ukraine, Szijjarto said he did not believe that Russia would attack a NATO member, noting that most EU countries were also part of NATO. He argued that NATO was the world’s strongest security and defence alliance and its Article 5 declared that an attack on one member was considered an attack on the whole alliance.
Asked how it was possible that Hungary today was the EU member with the closest ties with Russia after Soviet tanks had “crushed Hungarian freedom” in the 1950s and occupied Hungary, Szijjarto said that Hungary had suffered under communism for 40 years. “There was an oppression by the East and a kind of negligence by the West,” he said.
“We fought for our freedom but no one helped us,” the minister said, adding that no one should lecture Hungary on history, freedom or sovereignty.
“The other issue is that we do believe that if we block the channels of communication with Russia, then we kill the hope for peace,” he said. “Because we want peace to come.”
Asked about the role of European right-wing “sovereignist” political forces, Szijjarto said the EU could not be strengthened on the path of federalisation, arguing that federalisation and the establishment of a “united states of Europe” would only weaken the bloc, while a community of sovereign states strengthened it.