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FM Szijjártó on Ukraine Conflict: If Kyiv Does Not Change Anti-Minority Policies, Hungary Cannot Offer Much Help

Hungary Today 2022.01.26.

With Ukraine refusing to back off concerning their anti-minority policies, the Hungarian government’s potential assistance in the conflict with Russia is also limited, the Foreign Minister said in an interview with pro-Fidesz daily Magyar Nemzet. Péter Szijjártó also praised Hungary’s relations with Russia, which according to him are based on pragmatism, adding that “no one can ask” us to refrain from intensifying bilateral relations with the country.

“Hard to help Ukrainians”

The Hungarian government has made several gestures towards Ukraine, but received nothing in return, the Hungarian Foreign Minister notes in the interview.

“Hungarians in Transcarpathia have only received deprivation of rights, provocation, and in many cases, physical intimidation. (…) if Ukrainians don’t back down from these policies, that will severely limit the Hungarian government’s ability to provide any kind of support to Ukraine, even in this conflict [with Russia].”

In response to a question pointing out that Ukraine’s deprivation of minority rights is mainly targeted at Russians living in Ukraine, Szijjártó said he is “not very much interested in why the Ukrainians are doing this,” claiming that he has to explain to his Western colleagues that related Hungarian actions have “no Russian dimension.”

Szijjártó states they have “tried everything” to settle the situation in this regard. “I have recommended that the Hungarian community should be included among the indigenous minorities, so that any deprivation of rights would be nullified. They have not been willing to do that either. 150,000 Hungarians have not moved to Transcarpathia just in the last ten years. If someone is indigenous, they are. So we cannot even get as far as acknowledging basic historical facts, which is a big problem.” He said that he is not optimistic regarding the issue anymore, but “hope dies last.”

Szijjártó on Russia-Ukraine conflict

Szijjártó evaded a question citing Polish foreign minister Rau saying that Europe has never in the past 30 years been closer to a war, focusing more on rejecting another Cold War-like situation emerging and urging efforts aimed at resolving the conflict through negotiations.

The Foreign Minister claimed that while rhetoric is warlike out in the public, there are “fair and sometimes cordial” negotiations going on between Americans and Russians behind the scenes.

However, “no one can ask” us to refrain from intensifying the bilateral relations with Russia, he says, arguing that if only because those who use war rhetoric against Russians are the ones who, under the surface, are making huge business in and with Russia.

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Good relations with Russia is in Hungary’s interest

Consequently, Szijjártó praises relations with Russia, otherwise, he argues, Hungary could not have bought Sputnik vaccines, could not have evacuated Hungarians trapped in Kazakhstan during the demonstrations, and could not have concluded a long-term gas purchase agreement.

“We just smile at the position others have put themselves in with their hypocritical energy policies,”

he says.

The Foreign Minister stressed that “Hungary’s interest is clearly to maintain a pragmatic, normal relationship with the Russians based on mutual respect.”

Foreign policy must no longer be based on symbols or ideologies, but on national interests.”

Meanwhile, in a Facebook post published a day ago, he also confirmed that the postponement of PM Orbán’s imminent visit to Moscow is out of the question.

Foreign interference in Hungarian election

At the end of the interview, he also suggests potential foreign interference in the Hungarian elections, against which “they will do everything.” The Foreign Minister said that some embassies in Hungary “are instigating others to have joint actions.” Szijjártó attributes this to the Hungarian government going against the liberal mainstream and its hegemonic goals, which is why they want them to go and are doing their best to help the opposition.

featured image via Zoltán Máthé /MTI

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