Hungary will not contribute to any further EU funding of arms transfers to Ukraine until Kyiv removes OTP from the list of international sponsors of the war, said Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó on Tuesday.
According to a statement by the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Szijjártó said at a press conference that the Ukrainian authorities’ inclusion of the largest Hungarian bank, where roughly 3 million people hold accounts, on this list was outrageous, unacceptable and scandalous. Hungary’s foreign minister also stated that the reasons Ukraine provided for placing OTP on the list were lies and ridiculous.
“We do sometimes have the feeling that we are being played, but we don’t say this more often because there is a war going on in the neighborhood, and in such situations, you have to be careful about the expressions you use,” he said.
“But the fact that we are doing everything we can to help the Ukrainian people, that the Hungarian people are paying the price for a war they had nothing to do with, and the reaction to this is to put the biggest Hungarian bank on such a shameful list is simply too much,” he said.
As Remix News reported at the time, Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Agency (NACA) placed the Hungarian OTP Group on its list of “international war sponsors” at the beginning of May for continuing to cooperate with Russian entities.
NACA justified its decision by saying that the Hungarian bank continues to operate in Russia and is acting under the provisions of a lending law to which the Russian authorities of Donetsk and Luhansk regions are subject.
According to NACA, OTP provides loans to members of the Russian army on “favorable terms,” including the possibility of deferring payments when repaying loans. The statement indicated that the Ukrainian national bank had earlier demanded that OTP Group, which has a stake in Ukraine worth approximately $507 million, leave the Russian market.
Regarding the Ukrainian arguments for the blacklisting of OTP, Szijjártó said that he did not know whether to laugh or cry about them. “We would like to laugh because these are ridiculous things that are being said, but because the situation is serious, we are instead horrified,” he said.
“So our position is clear: As long as OTP is not taken off this list, Hungary will not contribute to any further EU funding for arms transfers to Ukraine,” he said.
“Not only will we not contribute to the €500 million that we have stopped, but better still, we will not come forward with any proposal for financing further arms transfers,” he added.