Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó recently gave an interview to Euronews and was asked, among other things, about Hungary’s relationship with the EU, NATO, and Russia, regarding the Ukrainian conflict.
Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó, who arrived in Lyon, France, for a meeting of EU foreign ministers and health ministers, and the opening of the Hungarian consulate there, gave an interview in Euronews‘ central studio.
Ukrainian conflict and Hungary
Szijjártó told Euronews that “we see the tension is getting more and more serious in the eastern part of the continent, which is very very bad news for us Hungarians.” The Foreign Minister recalled that Hungarians carry the memory of the Cold War and also the memory of always being losers of Eastern-Western conflicts, being positioned in Central Europe. He wants any violent actions to be avoided since
If there are any violent actions, we can only be losers of that.”
PM Orbán in Moscow
“When it comes to the question of whether Russia would like to invade or whether Russia would like to get into a war in Ukraine, we hope the answer will be no for a long time. This was President Putin’s statement during the meeting [with Prime Minister Orbán].”
Szijjártó talked about the importance of diplomacy, because he believes that with diplomacy, there is a bigger chance to come to a peaceful agreement. “That’s why we were really happy that following the visit of Prime Minister Orbán, President Macron also visited Moscow,” and he mentioned more planned visits in the future from other countries to Russia as well: “The more meetings, the more visits, the more dialogs, the better.”
"We are happy to see that the prime minister's ice-breaking mission proved to be a success, with European leaders appearing one after the other in the Kremlin," Szijjártó said.Continue reading
What will happen if Russia still decides to invade Ukraine?
“We don’t even want to think about it,” the Foreign Minister answered the question above. “We have to do our best to avoid the worst-case scenario. We have to invest in diplomacy.”
Sanctions against Russia
Szijjártó believes sanctions never work, they are “failures” and Hungary never vetoed them only because “we didn’t want to bray the European Unity.”
“If you look at the trade volume between big, Western European countries, including France by the way, with the Russian Federation, you will see the figures and you will see how much the trade between France and the Russian Federation, the trade between Germany and the Russian Federation, has increased since the sanctions have been in place. My position is that if we speak about further sanctions, it’s necessary to see an honest analysis of the sanctions which have been in place,” Szijjártó said.
Additional NATO troops not needed by Hungary
The US has sent extra soldiers to Poland and Romania while Germany has bolstered troop numbers in Lithuania — NATO troops are already stationed in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania as well as Poland. But the Orbán government does not want to increase the presence of NATO forces in Hungary, according to the Foreign Minister
We already have NATO troops on the territory of the country which is the Hungarian Army, and the Hungarian Armed Forces are in proper shape to guarantee the security of the country. So we don’t need additional troops on the territory of Hungary.”
Szijjártó added, however, that “we have ongoing cooperations within NATO with our fellow member states on training.”
Szijjártó was asked if Hungary is closer to NATO or Russia. He said, “Come on. We are members of NATO and we are members of the European Union.” If the Hungarian Armed Forces were not in a shape to protect the country, said Szijjártó, then “this question, whether to accept further troops, would make sense. In this case, it doesn’t make sense because we can protect ourselves.”
"But saving lives cannot be a political issue," Péter Szijjártó added.Continue reading
Covid-19 and vaccines
Szijjártó said that he would “absolutely” support further collaborations about health issues between the European Union and Russia because
A vaccine must not be considered as a political statement.”
“If you look at the figures, it’s obvious that Sputnik and Sinopharm have been working out very well. They are safe, they are effective. So, I think, the only reason that these are not recognized, or are just partly recognized, is purely political. Once again, I want to underline, that when it comes to saving the lives of people, vaccines must not be taken into consideration as political statements. I really do hope that at least on that, on saving the lives of people, on fighting the pandemic, there will be rational cooperation between East and West which is in the utmost interest of the Central European region.”
The full interview can be watched below:
Featured photo via Péter Szijjártó’s Facebook page