“There are no alternative gas sources, no alternative delivery roots which would make it possible for us to get rid of Russian oil and Russian gas in the upcoming couple years,” Péter Szijjártó said in an interview with CNN which he shared on his Facebook page. Speaking to the American news agency, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade discussed Russian gas imports, Hungary’s approach to the war in Ukraine, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s statements about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and the “blackmailing” over the rule of law issue in the European Union.
The Hungarian government’s decision to oppose EU sanctions on Russian gas imports is a question of Hungary’s infrastructure, Péter Szijjártó said. Hungary receives 85 percent of its gas supply and 65 percent of its oil supply from Russia, a reliance which he described as the “physical situation in central Europe,”
We have done a lot in order to diversify, we have built all the interconnectors with six of the seven neighboring countries. So in case there’s a new gas source being explored somewhere in the neighborhood we would be happy to buy gas from there.”
Szijjártó: Hungary Provides Humanitarian Aid to Ukrainians
The question of whether such continued imports and the Hungarian government’s decisions toward the war in Ukraine distance Hungary from the rest of the EU is, according to Szijjártó, “a perception, it’s a view, it’s a feeling, but this is not the reality.” The Foreign Minister brought up Hungary’s support for all five packages of sanctions against Russia except those “which would stop our country and stop our economy.”
“Hungary stands for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, we are helping Ukraine a lot on the humanitarian side,” Szijjártó said, explaining that Hungary has received 640 thousands refugees thus far, giving them accommodation and offering them jobs. However, Hungary will not supply weapons to Ukraine, nor will it allow weapon shipments through its border.
Not all EU or NATO member states are delivering weapons, Szijjártó responded to the question of Ukraine’s request for weapons and the United States’ call to allies to aid in weapon shipments.
The most important duty now for the Hungarian government is to make sure that we can guarantee the security of Hungary and the Hungarian people.”
Weapon shipments, Szijjártó said, would run the risk of bringing Hungary into the conflict. “We condemn this war started by the Russian Federation,” he concluded.
Prime Minister Orbán’s election victory statement on Hungary’s “opponents” was also brought up at the end of the interview. Asked whether it was wrong to describe Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy an opponent, Szijjártó accused the Ukrainian government of interfering in the Hungarian election and said President Zelenskyy’s statements towards Hungary must be considered.
The Ukrainian government […] tried to interfere into the elections in Hungary and the statements made by President Zelenskyy at the very end of our election campaign which were pretty hostile to us were absolutely inappropriate.”
Rule of Law Infringements and “Blackmail” Over EU Funds
Szijjártó said the European Commission’s statement that Hungary’s EU funds could be compromised over its rule of law violations and breaches of EU law is a “blackmailing against Hungary. These are false accusations.”
Szijjártó brought up the “landslide” victory of the Orbán in its recent reelection, which “the liberal mainstream in Brussels cannot digest.”
The [Hungarian] people are supporting what we are doing, and if you do what your people support, that means that it’s a clear and true democracy. […] They [the recent Hungarian laws] are not against the European values. They are not liked by some bureaucrats and some political leaders in Brussels.”
“The Hungarian people did not want the liberal mainstream to rule and govern Hungary,” Szijjártó stated. According to the Foreign Minister, “Brussels bureaucrats” premise the current rule of law infringements proceedings not on Hungary’s violations of EU values through legislation such as the “child protection law,” but on their disappointment with the results of the Hungarian election.
Szijjártó said the procedure was launched “one or two days” after the Hungarian election on April 3. However, the rule of law mechanism to cut EU funds was formally triggered on Wednesday, April 27, and legal proceedings around Hungary’s most significant violations have been ongoing well before the election.
Featured photo illustration via Péter Szijjártó’s Facebook page