Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: NATO summit successfully avoids escalation of Ukraine war

As Ukraine has received neither an invitation nor a timetable to join NATO until it meets all necessary conditions, the alliance has successfully avoided the threat of an escalation in the war, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on the closing day of the NATO summit in Vilnius on Wednesday.
12. July 2023 16:36

According to a ministry statement, Szijjarto hailed what he called a “win for responsibility”, adding that Ukraine would have to make do with “a modest result relative to certain expectations”.

Szijjarto said the only progress made in the relations between Ukraine and NATO at the summit was the decision to elevate the NATO-Ukraine Commission to a NATO-Ukraine Council.

“The sense of responsibility has won, and NATO has taken a responsible position,” the minister said.

NATO has managed to make a decision that does not come with the threat of an escalation of the war, he said. Member states have made it clear that Ukraine will only receive an invitation to join the alliance once it fulfils all the conditions and when the members unanimously agree that it has, he added.

A country at war cannot become a member of NATO as the alliance’s enlargement has to bolster rather than hurt its security, Szijjarto said, arguing that Ukraine’s admission to NATO would risk dragging the alliance into an armed conflict.

“There’s no invitation, so there’s no timetable for Ukraine, and I think this was the only responsible decision NATO could have taken in the current situation,” he said.

Szijjarto said Ukraine’s NATO accession bid enjoyed neither a “bypass” nor “fast track” since it had not received an invitation or a timetable to join the alliance.

Ukraine must still prepare annual national plans which include political reforms such as changes to minority rights laws, he said, emphasising that NATO was a “values-based community as well as a defence alliance”. NATO foreign ministers will assess the national plans, he added, “and of course we will pay special attention to the respect of minority rights.”

The minister said NATO members would also consult with their Australian, South Korean, Japanese and New Zealand counterparts, noting that recent geopolitical events had heightened the importance of strengthening cooperation with Pacific partners. He named Japan and South Korea as “strategic partners” and referred to big investments both countries have made in Hungary as well as political relations.

Meanwhile, Szijjarto said NATO should not become an “anti-China organisation”, adding that the alliance “was not formed against China, neither are its current operations directed against China”. “For our part, we believe that cooperation with China, as it does with South Korea and Japan, provides massive opportunities…”

The minister hailed Hungary’s achievement of meeting the NATO target of raising its defence spending to over two percent of GDP before the deadline, and he noted 20 percent of the defence budget is spent on developments. He also referred to advances being made in “building a very serious defence industry”.

“Again, we are reliable allies in this respect”, the minister said.

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