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17 May, 2023 18:10

EU country issues ultimatum for future aid to Ukraine

Kiev has been displaying an “increasingly belligerent” attitude towards Hungary, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto says
EU country issues ultimatum for future aid to Ukraine

Budapest will not support the allocation of further EU aid to Ukraine unless Kiev abandons its “increasingly hostile” attitude towards the country, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Wednesday.

The warning comes after Hungary blocked a new €500 million ($544 million) military aid package from the so-called European Peace Facility (EPF).

The decision to block the eighth tranche from the €5.6 billion ($6.08 billion) fund, which finances foreign militaries, was prompted by an “increasingly belligerent attitude on the part of Kiev towards its European Union neighbor,” the top diplomat told a media briefing in Vienna.

“It’s fair to say that we’ve had enough,” Szijjarto said.

The minister outlined a number of outstanding issues between Hungary and Ukraine, including Ukraine’s decision to add OTP Bank Nyrt, Hungary’s largest lender, to a shaming list of “international war sponsors” because it maintained business ties with Russia.

“I want to make clear that as long as Ukraine keeps OTP on its list of international war sponsors, we can’t support decisions requiring new economic and financial sacrifice on the part of the European Union and its member states. The same goes for [anti-Russia] sanctions,” Szijjarto said, insisting that the bank “did not violate any law in Ukraine, did not violate any international law, nor did it violate any sanction measures.”

Other issues listed by the diplomat include recent reports of alleged plans by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to blow up an oil pipeline linking Russia to Hungary through Ukraine’s territory, as well as the limiting of education rights for the ethnic Hungarian minority by Kiev.

The latter problem has been a major issue in bilateral ties for years, with Budapest believing the rights of ethnic Hungarians have been violated. Kiev has repeatedly accused Budapest of meddling in the country’s internal affairs, with Hungary’s practice of issuing passports to ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine causing diplomatic incidents.

Hungary has taken a neutral stance on the ongoing hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, refusing to provide military aid to Kiev or even allow its transit from the country’s territory. The country has also continuously opposed the EU’s anti-Russia sanctions, particularly those that would have affected Hungary’s own economy, including its conventional and nuclear energy sectors.