Extension of sanctions against Russia ‘wrong, anti-democratic’, says Hungarian foreign minister – UPDATE
Budapest, June 22 (MTI) – The extension of EU sanctions against Russia is “wrong” and the decision was made in an anti-democratic manner, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Wednesday.
It should have been clarified whether or not the sanctions contributed to compliance with the Minsk agreement, and to what extent, he said. He added that “for lack of a better solution” Hungary supports the discussion on this matter, which is to be held this autumn, he said after a meeting of the Hungary-Russia intergovernmental economic committee.
Szijjártó said it is time to stop “this hypocritical European approach”, noting that despite what appears to be a bold stance, last week European politicians were discussing economic cooperation with St. Petersburg.
Hungarian companies lost 4.5 billion forints (EUR 14m) of potential exports in the past 2.5 years because of the recent developments in European and world politics, he said.
Russia is one of Hungary’s most important economic, trading and energy partners, and the aim of today’s meeting was to enhance cooperation in every field that is not influenced by the sanctions.
He added that three areas were covered: energy, investments by Hungarian firms in Russia, and joint efforts in reaching third markets.
He said Paks 2 is the most important investment as regards Hungary’s energy safety, and the possibility of MVM’s involvement in Rosatom’s investments elsewhere had been discussed, so as to give MVM suitable experience. The sides also revised Hungary’s long-term gas purchase agreement, which now guarantees gas supply until late 2019. The new prices are beneficial for Hungary, Szijjártó said.
He said Hungarian corporations can mainly focus their investments on Russian agriculture, for instance building a crops factory and a meat factory is under preparation. Regarding third markets, Szijjártó said a Hungarian-Russian consortium was manufacturing railway wagons for Egypt, which is an 800-900 million euro project.
The co-chairman of the committee, Russian Minister of Health Veronika Skvortsova, added that difficulties would not hinder the improvement of Hungarian-Russian cooperation. She said that economic sanctions were not suitable to resolving political issues, they were just worsening the economic situation. In 2015 the bilateral trade in goods fell by 40 percent because of the sanctions, and this tendency continued early this year, she noted.
The Russian minister said the two countries want to improve cooperation, and there are projects to be concluded. Skvortsova emphasised the importance of agricultural investments and pharmacy, and was glad Hungary seeks opportunities to cooperate with Russian regions.
Before the press conference the two ministers signed the meeting’s minutes, then Szijjártó and Nikolay Kosov, the head of the International Investment Bank signed a cooperation agreement between the ministry and the bank. Later they also signed a declaration of intent about opening a health centre in Novosibirsk.