Around a thousand farmers with hundreds of vehicles held a demonstration near the Hungarian-Ukrainian border station in Záhony on Friday, protesting against the European Commission’s decision to extend the unlimited import of Ukrainian agricultural products for a year.
At the demonstration organized by the Hungarian farmers’ association MAGOSZ and the Hungarian Chamber of Agriculture (NAK), farmers with tractors, combine harvesters, and trucks occupied both sides of Main Road 4 leading to the border crossing point, significantly blocking passenger and freight traffic. Banners and Hungarian flags were hung on the agricultural machinery lined up for about five kilometers, and farmers held numerous posters and signs criticizing Brussels, the European Commission, and defending Hungarian agriculture.
Photo: MTI/Balázs Attila
Speaking at the event, István Jakab, president of MAGOSZ and vice-president of the National Assembly, said that “incompetent” people in Brussels are ruining European agriculture and the lives of citizens. In September of last year, Hungarian farmers had already signaled that they would not accept Brussels’ rules and would defend the five million hectares of Hungarian farmland and the food crops grown on it, he recalled. The president stressed that Hungarian farmers want EU rules that apply to them to be extended to countries outside the EU from which food raw materials or foodstuffs can enter Hungary.
He noted that the size and productivity of large Ukrainian farms could not compete with European producers, and that the owners and investors of the companies that owned them – registered in tax havens – wanted to use Brussels to acquire more and more Ukrainian farmland, and use the crops grown on it to weaken and then take over the European market.
This could reduce subsidies for EU farmers by 20-30 percent, halting development and opening up a path and space for Ukrainian products in the EU,”
He emphasized that this is why the upcoming European Parliament elections are important, as the European Commission will also change with the transformation of the European Parliament, and the new body could make more favorable decisions for farmers on these issues.
Photo: MTI/Balázs Attila
Balázs Győrffy, President of NAK, called the European Commission’s decision an absurdity.
It is far from being just about cereals: poultry meat, eggs, and the famous and sought-after Hungarian honey are also waiting to find an export market,”
the NAK President said.
It is a matter of protecting the investments of a large capitalist system outside Ukraine against the interests of European farmers in Brussels that is “shocking,” and Western Europe is beginning to see this, he added. He noted that although the Hungarian government had banned imports of Ukrainian products on a national level, Brussels should act to regain the markets lost to the flood of crops invading Europe.
Balázs Győrffy, President of the Hungarian Chamber of Agriculture (NAK). Photo: MTI/Balázs Attila
Attila Tilki, Fidesz MP, stressed in his speech that producers from all over the country had come here, as had MPs, and that this unity was necessary for the government to continue the fight for farmers’ interests in Brussels. “If there is no farmer, there is no food and no future,” Tilki quoted a slogan of the French farmers’ demonstration, and reiterated that the Hungarian government’s priority is Hungarian land and Hungarian farmers.
At the end of the speeches, the farmers marched to the Hungarian-Ukrainian border crossing point, where they were stopped by police officers, and the demonstrators then returned to the original site of the event.
Via MTI, Featured image: MTI/Balázs Attila