On Monday, there is expected to be a huge debate in the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels about Hungary’s decision to block €500 million in funding to Ukraine from the European Peace Facility (EPF) fund.
Currently, Hungary’s demand is that Ukraine removes Hungary’s biggest bank, OTP Bank, from Ukraine’s sanctions list in exchange for the funding.
In an interview on state broadcaster Kossuth Rádió’s Vasárnapi Újság program on Sunday morning, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó called it unacceptable and scandalous that Ukraine had put Hungary’s OTP Bank on the list of international sponsors of the war, and stated that OTP complies with all rules in its operations.
He also added that the European Union cannot digest the fact that the Hungarians themselves have decided on their own future and that Budapest has a successful right-wing, Christian democrat government.
Szijjártó was also asked about the news that Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, had proposed to the Ukrainians to “stop” the Druzhba oil pipeline. The minister said that no explanation had been received from Kyiv regarding the rumors, but in his opinion, this was a matter of such gravity that the president of the European Commission should personally address it. The issue of security of energy supply is a matter of sovereignty, he said, adding that if someone tries to interfere with the security of a country’s energy supply, it can be considered an attack on the sovereignty of that country.
“There are clear international treaties on how oil must be transported through Ukraine, and if this becomes impossible, it will be physically impossible to secure Hungary’s oil supply, as the capacity of the oil pipeline to Croatia is much lower than the total oil demand of Hungary, Slovakia and partly the Czech Republic,” the minister pointed out.
Szijjártó also noted that Croatia, taking advantage of the war situation, has “unscrupulously” raised transit fees to many times the European market rate, as has Ukraine.
“The Hungarians have already paid a very high price for a war that is not their war, and they had nothing to do with its outbreak, so it would be legitimate to expect that the Hungarian people should no longer be made to pay an even higher price for this war,” he said.
On Ukraine’s accession to the European Union, Szijjártó said that Hungary will only give its support if guarantees are given to safeguard the rights of the Hungarian national community in Ukraine, i.e. if the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia regains the rights it already had in the past, including language rights.