Szijjarto foresees ‘elemental struggle’ concerning NATO plans opposed by Hungary

Peter Szijjarto, the foreign minister, has said he expects a "elemental struggle" in connection with a proposal by NATO regarding a mission in Ukraine in the coming weeks, underlining, however, that Hungary did not want to train Ukrainian soldiers or deliver weapons to its north-eastern neighbour despite the "enormous pressure" it was under to do so.
13. May 2024 17:35

Addressing a meeting of ruling Fidesz’s parliamentary group on Monday, Szijjarto said NATO had begun to “blur its own red lines” that said the alliance was not party to the war in Ukraine and that everything possible had to be done to prevent a direct confrontation with Russia.

“And now … the secretary general felt that it would also be worthwhile for NATO to do something, because we can’t have NATO just sitting around for two years with only its member states and the European Union taking the steps that endanger global security,” Szijjarto said.

The minister said NATO wanted to step up its coordination of weapons deliveries and the training of Ukrainian troops, and was planning to approve a 100 billion euro aid package. “Hungary, however, doesn’t want take part in this in any form,” he added.

“We want to stay out of this completely,” Szijjarto said. He said Hungary wanted its soldiers to be exempt from participating in such a mission and did not want “anything relating to these types of operations happening on Hungary’s territory”. Neither does Hungary want any of its taxpayers’ money to be used for the mission, he added.

Hungary, he said, was under intense pressure to take part in the mission, pointing out that the other two NATO countries that had been on the fence had been persuaded to join the common position, and Hungary was now on its own.

“Everyone has been sucked in, and we’re on our own. And we’ll be completely alone in the battles in the coming weeks,” he said.

Szijjarto said work was already under way in Brussels on putting together the “hinterland” of the operation. “And we’re being pushed in,” he insisted. “We’ve more or less succeeded in getting them to accept, politically, that we don’t want to participate in this, but as I see it, they want to at least try to push us into the financial side of the story.”

“Now they’re trying to put pressure on us by saying, ‘fine, no Hungarian soldiers or even [the use of ] Hungarian territory, but there has to be money’,” Szijjarto said. “And there we have the battle of the weeks ahead: no to all three.”

Meanwhile, Szijjarto said NATO did not want to set a precedent for a member state staying out of a military operation. He lamented that Western political leaders were showing no signs of backing out of weapons deliveries even though it had become clear that the conflict could not be settled on the battlefield.

“Everyone in Europe has been ordered to give everything they have … no matter how it may harm their own security,” the minister said.

The clear position “in NATO circles today”, he said, was that allies needed to help Ukraine even at the risk of hurting their own security. He cited the example of Slovakia, which had not been compensated on time for giving all of its military planes to Ukraine, and its airspace was now being policed by Hungary and Czechia.

“If we Hungarians and the Czechs didn’t guarantee the protection of Slovakia’s airspace, then their only air defence capability would be to angrily shake their fists up at the sky,” Szijjarto said.

He said that because weapons deliveries were “only enough to uphold the status quo”, the only way out was to involve NATO by sending troops and “causing a world war”.

Szijjarto said another scenario would involve the use of nuclear weapons, “of which even one is enough to settle the fate of the world, and there are thousands of them on both sides”.

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