Hungary has so far sent 1,300 tonnes of aid to Ukraine and has helped hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the war in the country, but stands by its decision not to send weapons or troops to its north-eastern neighbour, a government official said on Tuesday.
Hungary can be of far greater help if it remains “an island of peace” together with Transcarpathia (Kárpátalja), Miklós Soltész, the state secretary for church and state relations and head of the National Humanitarian Coordination Council, said after visiting the humanitarian transit point set up at Budapest’s BOK sports and events centre in the company of Lyubov Nepop, Ukraine’s ambassador to Hungary.
Hungary does not agree with imposing an embargo on Russian oil and natural gas imports,
Soltész said, arguing that such a sanction would hit the Hungarian and the European economies so hard that it would “destroy us to such an extent that we would not be unable to provide any further help.”
Nepop, who visited the transit point for the first time, thanked the Hungarian government and the Hungarian people for their support and asked for their continued help to refugees coming from Ukraine.
The ambassador said she respected and understood the Hungarian government’s position not to send weapons to Ukraine, voicing however disagreement with that position.
“It is impossible to defend [our country] without weapons,” she said.
She said Ukraine was not asking Hungary to send troops or to get involved in the war, adding that her country understood and respected the Hungarian position which is to maintain peace. But Ukraine is asking Hungary, as it has asked other countries, to consider what form of supplies it could provide to aid Ukraine’s defence, she said.
“We will not be able to stop the Russian army unless we build up our defences … and if your country helps us in that effort it will allow for maintaining peace,” the ambassador said.
Nepop in addition asked for the Hungarian authorities to ban a pro-Russia demonstration planned for April 30 in Budapest. Answering a question, she told MTI that Ukraine had submitted a diplomatic note asking the Hungarian foreign ministry to ban the planned event. “When it is about supporting a murderer then it is not about the issue of democracy,” the ambassador said.
Soltész told public media after the visit that the 1,300 tonnes of aid comprised food, medicines, medical equipment and clothing, adding that Hungary had also supplied 100,000 litres of fuel to Ukraine immediately after the war broke out.
He noted that Hungary has so far taken in 620,000 refugees from Ukraine, 300,000 of whom have received some form of help from charity organisations. So far, 16,400 refugees have submitted their application for asylum while Hungarian authorities have issued 101,000 temporary residency permits, Soltész said. The Bridge for Transcarpathia aid programme has already raised donations worth over 1 billion forints (EUR 2.6m), he said.
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