The Hungarian government will continue to refuse EU funding for arms transfers to Ukraine until the country’s anti-corruption agency guarantees it will never again put Hungarian companies, including OTP, on its list of international sponsors of the war based on trumped-up charges, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in Brussels on Monday.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the minister said at a press conference during a break of the EU Foreign Affairs Council that “there was enormous pressure for Hungary to contribute to the payment of the additional €500 million from the European Peace Facility for arms supplies to Ukraine.”
Szijjártó pointed out that the amount would not actually go toward supporting Ukraine, but rather to reimbursing part of other EU member states’ voluntary military aid.
“Some people called it unworthy, some called it a scandal, some people spoke out against it, but the fact is that I asked my EU colleagues here not to mislead public opinion,” he said.
“Because this is not aid for Ukraine. This €500 million means that those European Union member states who decided on their own, in a sovereign way, to deliver weapons to Ukraine, will get back a part of the price of weapons they sent.” He stressed that no one is stopping anyone from supporting Ukraine, it is just a question of the states concerned not getting back part of the price of the weapons they have decided to send.
Ukraine still not ready for EU membership
Szijjártó also touched upon the issue of Ukraine’s candidacy for EU membership, saying that the country is still very far from fulfilling the conditions and from being able to talk about progress at all.
He stressed that not only has there been no progress in the area of national minority rights, which the EU also considers important, but the situation has deteriorated further.
“We have recently learned that the Ukrainian Ministry of Education has sent a circular to schools with instructions to use the state language, Ukrainian, not only in class but also during breaks and in any contact between teachers and students,” he said.
“So, instead of Ukrainians getting closer to meeting the conditions expected by the European Union, (…) they are further away from it, the situation is even worse. We Hungarians see and experience this with our own eyes,” he added.
The minister therefore said that the government would not consider any progress in the case of Ukraine to be justified and also reiterated the need for Brussels to focus on bringing peace outside the European Union instead of importing war.