Hungary is ready to continue aiding Ukraine on a bilateral basis, but will not support the European Union taking out a loan for that purpose, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Sofia on Monday.
Referring to draft legislation the European Commission is expected to table this week which proposes EUR 1.5 billion in monthly aid to cover the war-torn country’s financing needs, Szijjártó told a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Central European Initiative that Hungary had supported the country’s healthcare, education and cultural and religious institutions “to the tune of tens and hundreds of millions of euros” even before the war.
“We are ready to continue to support Ukraine based on a bilateral agreement,” he said.
At the same time, Hungary will “definitely not support the EU taking out a loan” for that purpose because “we have done so once already. We supported the loan the EU took out during the coronavirus pandemic, and that was more than enough,” he said.
Regarding the sanctions implemented against Russia in response to its attack on Ukraine, Szijjártó said the measures had had the opposite effect to what was promised when they were introduced: “the war’s brutality is growing and the European economy, rather than the Russian, was the one brought to its knees.” As an example, he pointed to Hungary’s growing energy costs: last year, the country spent EUR 7 billion on energy imports. That sum shot up to 19 billion this year, and is expected to be around 29 billion in 2023 “if everything goes on the way it has been”, he said.
“We must face the fact that these measures have essentially failed. The European economy is suffering and it seems clear who is profiting,” he said. The government will not allow that Hungarians be made to pay the price of war, and sees peace as the only solution, he said. Meanwhile, Hungary is under double pressure from migration, a significant security risk facing the country, he said.
Hungary has so far accepted some 1 million Ukrainian refugees, and some 1,300 schools and kindergartens have taken on Ukrainian children. At the same time, “we can say without exaggeration that our southern border is under siege,” Szijjártó said. So far, authorities have thwarted some 230,000 illegal entry attempts there this year alone, he said.
The numbers are now “similar to those during the migration crisis of 2015, and some arrivals are attacking each other and the border guards with weapons,” he said. Meanwhile, Brussels keeps up its “hypocritical approach, encouraging migrants to set out for Europe and thereby keeping up the people smugglers’ business model, which is unacceptable,” Szijjártó said.
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