EU member won’t support joint Ukraine aid effort
Hungary will not support European Union efforts to jointly raise aid funds for Ukraine amid its ongoing conflict with Russia, the country's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has said.
Speaking at a conference in Sofia on Monday, Szijjarto said Budapest had supported Kiev directly as a neighbor and would continue to do so, but that it opposed joint efforts by the bloc to raise funds.
“We are ready to continue financial support on a bilateral basis, on the basis of a bilateral agreement between Ukraine and Hungary. But we will certainly not support any kind of joint EU borrowing in this field,” Szijjarto said.
He added that Hungary had been helping its neighbor in various ways for longer than some countries suddenly acting like Kiev's “best friends.”
Explaining Budapest’s decision, the FM said his country had supported joint borrowing during the Covid-19 pandemic and “that was more than enough.”
Hungary has still not received its share of those pandemic recovery funds. The European Commission has been withholding approval for Budapest to draw on the funds while it assesses the country’s efforts to satisfy numerous rule-of-law requirements.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told the Budapester Zeitung in October that Brussels was “punishing us and openly blackmailing us with EU money.”
This week, Brussels is set to propose an €18 billion ($18 billion) aid package for Ukraine for 2023. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen informed Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky of the plan by phone on Sunday.
In a statement, Von der Leyen said both parties recognized the “importance of ensuring predictable and regular funding of essential state functions.” The funding will take the form of “highly concessional long-term loans” which would support Kiev’s path toward EU membership.
Hungary is the only NATO member that has also remained steadfast in refusing to arm Ukraine. Orban has refused to supply weapons or allow arms to enter Ukraine via Hungarian territory. He has also refused to embargo Russian energy exports and has called for direct talks between Russia and the US to end the conflict.