Hungary is not even willing to discuss the issue of further EU funding for arms shipments to Ukraine until Kiev removes Hungarian bank OTP from the list of international sponsors of the war, and returns the rights of the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia (formerly part of Hungary, now Ukraine), Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Toledo.
Following an informal meeting of European Union foreign ministers, Péter Szijjártó pointed out that the majority position is to maintain arms supplies to Ukraine, showing that everyone is now expecting a long war. This is also evidenced by the European Union’s proposal to spend up to five billion euros a year on military aid over the next four years. “Unfortunately, I was the only one to speak out against this approach today. We do not want four more years of war, we want this war to end as soon as possible,” he emphasized.
The foreign minister underlined that there was strong pressure for Hungary to vote for the additional €500 million tranche to finance arms transfers and the €20 billion package for the next four years. He pointed out that the government is not even willing to discuss this proposal until the Ukrainian authorities remove OTP from the list of international sponsors of the war.
It is a huge contradiction (…) that while we are expected to pay tens of billions of forints of Hungarian taxpayers’ money to Ukraine for arms supplies, Ukraine considers the largest bank, holding the bank accounts of three million Hungarians, to be an international sponsor of the war,”
He also pointed out that High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, had initiated a meeting with him and Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmitro Kuleba, on the issue, but that the latter had refused. Szijjártó added that
Borrell had presented the opinion of the EU’s lawyers, who had concluded that OTP Bank had not violated any EU legislation or sanctions by its actions, thereby confirming the inadmissibility of the listing.
The minister then touched on the situation of Hungarians in Transcarpathia, complaining that the “Ukrainization” of some 15,000 students had effectively started on September 1, while more than 5,000 refugee children were continuing their studies in Hungary in their own language and under appropriate circumstances. He called the new regulation on minorities adopted by Kiev a serious breach of international law and stressed that this would be the main point of focus for Hungary when the EU starts to examine in the autumn the extent to which Ukraine has met the requirements for the start of accession negotiations.
Last December, the Ukrainian parliament adopted a new law
on national minorities, which is one of the conditions for Ukraine to start negotiations on its accession to the European Union. However, Hungarian organizations criticized
the new law, saying that the lawmakers completely ignored constructive proposals previously made by minority organizations. According to them, the law not only reinforces the restrictions on rights previously codified in the Education and Language Law that was hurtful to Hungarian communities, but also introduces new ones, and it “does not guarantee the preservation of compact nationality settlement areas, nor the use of nationality symbols.” Even the Council of Europe’s constitutional expert body, the Venice Commission
, spoke out against the new law, reinforcing the fact that all persons belonging to national minorities in Ukraine have the right to the free and unhindered use of their mother tongue in private and public life, in speech and writing.
Szijjártó said in an interview earlier this year that the government would like Hungarians to regain the rights they had in Ukraine in 2014. “So they should be able to study in Hungarian up to university level, they should be able to graduate from high school in their mother tongue, and they should not have to spoil Hungarian performances in Transcarpathian cultural centers with Ukrainian simultaneous interpretation,” he explained. “The problem is really pressing now, because from September this year, minority schools will practically disappear. There will only be state schools with minority language teaching,” he warned.
Szijjártó also mentioned that at the meeting this time, there were Member States that had raised the need for sanctions against the Russian nuclear industry, but the Hungarian government would not give in on this. “Not only because it is against the national interest, but also because nuclear sanctions show exactly how these measures destroy the competitiveness of the European economy and how some people look at us as fools,” he emphasized. He added that the United States more than doubled its uranium imports, one of the most important elements in the nuclear industry, from Russia in the first half of 2023, the highest level since 2005.
Via MTI, Featured photo via Facebook/Péter Szijjártó