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17 Jan, 2024 08:13

EU state promises to stand up for Hungary

Bratislava will not allow Ukraine's backers to punish Budapest for protecting its national interests, Robert Fico has pledged  
EU state promises to stand up for Hungary

Slovakia will not allow supporters of Ukraine in the EU to punish Hungary for defending its national interests, Prime Minister Robert Fico said during a visit to Budapest on Tuesday, where he met his counterpart, Viktor Orban.

The pledge of support came ahead of an extraordinary EU summit on February 1, at which leaders will be discussing proposed adjustments to the bloc's joint multi-year budget.

Last month, Hungary vetoed a European Commission plan to fund Ukraine to the tune of €50 billion ($54 billion) over four years. A group of 120 EU lawmakers signed a petition last week, urging that Hungary be stripped of its voting rights.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, Fico said he would not allow “such an attack on Hungary” as long as he heads the Slovak government. He said Slovakia shared Hungary’s concerns over the Ukraine conflict and supported Budapest’s position that any funding of Kiev coming from the EU should be done on an annual basis, and subject to regular reviews.

The conditions are “rational and sensible,” Fico said. Kiev backers “cannot expect a country from which funds have been withdrawn to give money to another country,” the senior official stressed. “It is not fair, it is not just.”

Hungary has defied Brussels and many EU member states, arguing that Western arming of Ukraine cannot end its hostility with Russia. Economic restrictions imposed on Moscow in retaliation have caused more damage to the EU than to Russia Orban has argued.

Fico, who became head of the Slovakian government last October following his party’s election win, made a U-turn on the issue compared to the policies of his predecessors. Orban noted during the press conference that he and his guest were in agreement on most EU affairs and that the interests of Hungary and Slovakia were in alignment “at least 99%.”

The Slovak leader said he didn’t believe that the Ukraine conflict could be resolved militarily. Its continuation will only result in hundreds of thousands of additional unnecessary deaths, Fico predicted. As an ethnic Slav, “it hurts me that Slavs are killing each other,” he stressed.