Hungary will not send soldiers or weapons to Ukraine, no matter who should request it, because the country does not want to be dragged into the war, the prime minister’s chief of staff said on Thursday.
In an interview with Mandiner published on Thursday, Gergely Gulyás said NATO could not make Hungary’s involvement in such an intervention mandatory. NATO member states are obligated to protect each other, “but as Ukraine is not a member of NATO, we have no such obligation”.
At the same time, Hungary has condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine together with its European Union peers, he said.
As the first safe country for Ukrainians fleeing the conflict, Hungary is providing humanitarian aid to the nearly 500,000 people who have arrived so far, he said.
Gulyás said the Hungarian government’s policy to open towards Eastern markets did not “collapse” with the war. The policy was based “on the recognition that the East will determine the 21st century much more than the West,” which is in line with current forecasts of the world economy, he said.
Hungary has created an investment-friendly environment and “we are happy to talk to anyone about investment”, he said, citing South Korea as an example, the largest investor in Hungary in 2019.
“Everything that happened in the past decade justifies the Eastern opening,” he said.
“Russia is a part of the East … Russian-Hungarian relations were always a partnership based on mutual interests.”
Russian imports of raw materials are irreplaceable in Hungary, as in many EU countries, he said.
While the war is clearly harming Russian-Hungarian economic ties, as Hungary has accepted the EU’s sanctions “after we successfully stopped them from being expanded to the transport of raw materials.”
Hungary’s dependence from Russian gas is a consequence of “the West’s decision after world war two that we are fine in a Russian sphere of influence, and every Hungarian government since the fall of communism thirty years ago has supported energy diversification,” he said.
Without alternative routes to import energy resources, “our dependence on Russian gas is so great that it is impossible to ensure enough raw materials to run the economy or the government’s utility price cut scheme without it,” he said.
Regarding the risk that EU pressure would lead to energy sanctions, Gulyás said “common sense will prevail”.
Hungary is also against sanctions impacting nuclear energy, he said.