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Hungarian FM: Budapest will block next tranche of EU military aid for Ukraine unless it receives 'guarantees'

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 13, 2023 8:13 PM 2 min read
Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto attends the 10th Summit of the Heads of State of the Organization of Turkic States on Nov. 3, 2023. (Arda Kucukkaya/Anadolu via Getty Images)
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Hungary will not support the next disbursement of military aid for Ukraine under the auspices of the EU's European Peace Facility (EPF) unless it receives guarantees that no Hungarian company will be added to Ukraine's international sponsors of war list, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Nov. 13, cited by the Hungarian media outlet Magyar Nemzet.

Hungary has previously blocked EU aid to Ukraine over the addition of the Hungarian bank OTP to the international sponsors of war list, which Szijjarto mentioned again in his press conference.

Although Ukraine's National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) provisionally removed OTP from the list, Hungary wants guarantees it will not be added again in the future.

The "international sponsor of war" title is designed to be "a powerful reputational tool," the Agency on Corruption Prevention explains on its website.

Bloomberg reported on Nov. 9 that EU officials were discussing an alternative plan to aid Ukraine in case Hungary continues to block proposed funding packages.

Szijjarto reiterated a number of regularly expressed positions about Ukraine, including that sanctions have failed to work.

In addition, Szijjarto said that the "situation of Hungarians in Ukraine is constantly deteriorating," again saying that there can be no progress on Ukraine's accession to the EU until it changes its position on the Hungarian minority.

The language law that has long been a source of strife between Hungary and Ukraine was instituted in 2017 and requires at least 70% of education above fifth grade to be conducted in Ukrainian.

Ukraine has significant Hungarian and Romanian minorities, and both Hungary and Romania have criticized the law as discriminatory. Ukraine responded that it does not intend to crack down on its minorities, only to ensure that every Ukrainian citizen has sufficient knowledge of Ukraine's official language.

Since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Hungary has repeatedly obstructed EU funds for Kyiv while opposing sanctions against Russia. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who maintains close ties with the Kremlin, has refused to provide military aid to Ukraine and claimed that Kyiv's counteroffensive was destined to fail.

Both Orban and Szijjarto have met with high-ranking Russian officials, including Putin, since Feb. 24, 2022. Szijjarto has also traveled to Russia five times since the beginning of the full-scale invasion.

A majority of Hungarians have expressed their disapproval of Orban's meeting with Putin at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on Oct. 17.

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