The Hungarian economy has sustained a loss of some USD 6.5 billion due to the sanctions implemented against Russia, Hungarian Foregin Minister Péter Szijjártó said in an interview with Russian newspaper Kommersant, news agency TASS reported. Szijjártó said he believed that “the sanctions are not effective, and are clearly harmful.”
In the interview the Hungarian minister, who has just paid an official visit to Moscow, took the view that the EU has reduced the debate on the sanctions against Russia to a low level, despite the fact that several European countries are opposed to them. On the day of decision-making, however, Hungary was eventually left on its own with its position, but chose not to exercise its veto against the punitive economic sanctions because it did not wish to upset unity within the EU.
Péter Szijjártó, however, now expressed hope that the EU will lift some of the punitive economic sanctions at its summit to be held in March, adding that a great deal will depend on the Russian-American dialogue. In his words, if there is a shift in the dialogue between Moscow and Washington, it will be easier to convince the European partners to follow the same path.
As he said, Hungary seeks to be one of the “pillars” of the re-establishment of European-Russian relations. He took the view that if the EU fails to engage in a pragmatic dialogue with Moscow, it stands to lose a great deal, among others, due to keen competition with China, the United States and Britain.
Hungary’s top diplomat also spoke about the difficult situation of Ukraine’s Hungarian community. He told the newspaper that at the time of the Ukrainian Prime Minister’s visit to Budapest in November, the Hungarian Government told Volodymyr Groysman in the clearest possible terms that it does not tolerate any amendment either to the Ukrainian education legislation, or to the law on the use of languages which could compromise the situation of minorities. Szijjártó hopes, as he said, that Ukraine will not eventually pass the legislation, based on which only the Ukrainian language could be used in public places as well as in everyday life.
“Should any legislative amendment or any other change compromise the situation of minorities, including the situation of the Hungarian community, we shall naturally voice our objections at EU level. This is not an internal affair of Ukraine, but an issue that points far beyond the borders of Ukraine. We must protect minorities, and must apply European norms also in the context of Ukraine”, he said.