Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: War threatening to cause global food shortages

he war in Ukraine is threatening to cause global food shortages and triggering further migration waves, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday, adding that Hungary has offered to provide a route for Ukrainian food produce exports.
20. June 2022 18:26

For that to happen, the border between the two countries must be kept safe, Szijjarto said on the sidelines of a European Union foreign ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg.

Szijjarto said “the vicious circle threatening the world” was fuelled by high inflation and dwindling exports of agricultural products from Ukraine and Russia, resulting in rising prices. The lack of alternative resources and the fact that Russia, Ukraine and Belarus are important players of the world market of artificial fertilisers is exacerbating the problem, he said.

Szijjarto noted that several speakers at the meeting called for further arms deliveries to Ukraine. “I am not entirely sure that this is the best global solution to a food shortage,” he said. He called for a “sound” plan to rebuild Ukrainian and Russian export capacities to be accepted speedily.

Russia and Ukraine have so far provided 30 percent of wheat and 80 percent of sunflower seed exports globally, and play important roles in other basic products, he said.

The World Bank has said a food crisis is threatening some 400 million people in the Middle East, Africa and south-east Asia, “countries that are already sources of migration or are avoiding that fate with great efforts,” he said.

While Hungary currently produces “approximately” double the food consumed in the country, the government will need to take further steps to protect Hungarians from the crisis, he said.

The price caps introduced on basic foods earlier this year will have to be maintained to keep inflation in check, he said.

At the same time, Hungary will also have to maintain and strengthen border protection elsewhere to thwart people smugglers and migrants arriving on the Western Balkans route, he said.

Responding to a question, Szijjarto said Hungary had seen no obstructions in gas and crude deliveries, and the gas reservoirs are being filled according to plan. Meanwhile, he called on the European Commission to “pull itself together and come up with a credible and realistic schedule on expanding the transport capacity through Croatia,” he said.

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