“As long as this government is in power”, Hungary will not deliver weapons or send soldiers to Ukraine – Gergely Gulyás, the prime minister’s chief of staff said yesterday. In connection with a statement of opposition prime ministerial candidate Péter Márki-Zay, who said refusing transit of deliveries to Ukraine from other countries constituted “treason”, Gulyás said such a step would “create risks that we better avoid if we want to protect Transcarpathia and the Hungarians living there.”
Gulyás noted that Hungary launched a large-scale development of its armed forces a few years ago “as if it had a premonition of the possibility of armed conflict,” Gulyás said. “The members of the current German parliament at the time talked about the importance of pacifism,” he said. “Europe may develop self-defence capabilities as a consequence of the war,” he said.
While Russia is Hungary’s key economic partner in ensuring energy supplies, NATO and the EU are its allies, Gulyás said.
Ties with Russia were “more a marriage of convenience rather than a love affair,”
he said. Regarding territorial claims, he cleared that the government stood on the ground of the Budapest Memorandum, which guaranteed the borders of Ukraine.
Regarding possible outcomes of the war, Gulyás said the ideal solution would be if both parties retreated to antebellum territories. “Together with our allies, we will decide whether to accept the new status quo. We haven’t enough forces to have a significant impact on the outcome,” he said.
Gulyás called the Russian demand that NATO restore its 1997 borders, before the former Communist states became members, “impossible”.
NATO membership “guarantees the greatest possible security for Hungary,”
Responding to questions about the Russian-backed International Investment Bank (IIB), which was hit by EU sanctions and lost five EU member states as its clients this week, Gulyás said Hungary would remain in the institution as the bank backed Hungarian investments. At the same time, the IIB’s liquidity may be at risk if its other EU members follow suit, he said.
Regarding gas supplies, Gulyás said
Russia has already raised its prices.
In the unlikely case it decided to “close the taps”, Hungary would be one of the last countries to suffer, he said. Hungarian reservoirs are 54 percent full, while other EU countries have reserves of between 17 and 38 percent of their capacity, he said.
Should Russia cease to deliver gas, Hungary would have to turn to more costly alternatives, Gulyás said. The government, at the same time, “is committed to maintaining the utility price caps”, he said. The EU is not going to hit Russian gas deliveries with sanctions “because that would kill its economy,” Gulyás said, noting that the bloc had failed to diversify its energy resources in the past thirty years.
Strategic reservoirs currently hold three months’ supplies,
Regarding the European Parliament’s recommendation to cease cooperation with Russian state-owned Rosatom, the developer of the upgrade of the Paks nuclear plant, Gulyás said a show of unity with the EU was now more important than “eliminating points of the document Hungary does not agree with”. The sanctions will not delay or raise the costs of the upgrade, “but the effects of the war are impossible to foretell,” he said.