Hungary Asserts Interests at NATO Summit, Not Sending Soldiers, Weapons to Ukraine

  • 25 Mar 2022 3:56 PM
  • Hungary Matters
Hungary Asserts Interests at NATO Summit, Not Sending Soldiers, Weapons to Ukraine
Hungary's standpoint and the national interest were successfully asserted at the NATO summit, Viktor Orbán said.

Hungary will not send soldiers or weapons to Ukraine, the prime minister said in a video statement.

“It has been accepted that we will not send weapons; neither will weapons be allowed through Hungarian territory on the way to Ukraine.”

NATO members, he added, had established a common position that preventing the war from spilling over the borders of Ukraine was of paramount importance, and that meant a no-fly zone was off the table.

“This is good news for Hungary,” he said. Also, NATO has decided to strengthen central European countries neighbouring Ukraine — Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, he noted. NATO forces will be stationed in Hungary in a defensive role, Orbán said.

“We await them: Turks, Italians and Croats, as well as Americans,” he said. Together with the Hungarian army, “they will guarantee the peace and security of Hungary and the Hungarian people,” he added.

'Five Nations to Join Hungarian Battalion Battle Group' – FM Szijjártó

Five nations to date have indicated their intention to join the Hungarian battalion battle group, Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s foreign minister, said after NATO’s extraordinary summit in Brussels on Thursday.

Hungary continues to give priority to “not being dragged” into the war in its neighbourhood, Szijjártó said on Facebook, adding that from this point of view the summit’s results met Hungary’s expectations and dovetailed with its national interests.

Szijjártó called it a major achievement that NATO had reinforced its position that it is not, and does not wish to become, a belligerent party in the conflict.

“Every possible effort should be made to prevent the war from escalating and spilling beyond the borders of Ukraine,” he said. Szijjártó said NATO had decided to set up eight battalion battle groups on its eastern and southeastern flank to beef up its military presence in the region.

The Hungarian battle group already established has been operating within NATO’s framework under Hungarian command, he said.

The battle group is open to troops of other NATO member states, Szijjártó said, adding that five countries — the United States, Turkey, Croatia, Montenegro and Italy — had indicated their intention to delegate hundreds of soldiers to the unit.

The troops concerned will be stationed west of the Danube and involved in joint training and exercises, he said.

Hungary Not Sending Soldiers, Weapons to Ukraine

Hungary will not send soldiers or weapons to Ukraine, no matter who makes such a request, Gergely Gulyás, the prime minister’s chief of staff, said in an interview to political weekly Mandiner, adding that Hungary does not want to be dragged into the war.

NATO could not make Hungary’s involvement in such an intervention mandatory, he said, adding that its member states are obliged 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 alongside its European Union peers, he noted. As the first safe country for Ukrainians fleeing the conflict, Hungary is also providing humanitarian aid to the nearly 500,000 people who have arrived so far, he added.

Gulyás said the Hungarian government’s policy of opening to Eastern markets had not “collapsed” with the war. The policy was based “on the recognition that the East will determine the 21st century far more than the West”, in line with current forecasts of the world economy.

Hungary has created an investment-friendly environment and “we are happy to talk to anyone about investments”, 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.

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,” he said.

Hungary’s dependence from Russian gas is a consequence of “the West’s decision after the second world war 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.

Despite the economic challenges of the war, Hungary’s return to budgetary balance after the coronavirus pandemic continues to be faster than EU average, he said.

Regarding Hungarian-Polish relations, Gulyás said “the friendly relations based on a shared worldview and view of society are stronger than the indeed significant differences in opinion regarding sanctions against Russia.”

Regarding the referendum on child protection which will be held simultaneously with the general election on April 3, Gulyás said the government was of the view that children’s sex education was the responsibility of parents.

He called on those “who agree with that statement to vote four times no”. Gulyás said support of Christian conservatism has grown among intellectuals since the last election.

“You cannot govern for twelve years without making mistakes, but the main direction, from economic and social policy to armed forces development, were set out well,” he said.

The government’s achievements of the past twelve years are viable in themselves, he said. On the other hand, the previous government of now-Democratic Coalition leader Ferenc Gyurcsány “left only insolvency and scorched earth behind,” he said.

“Austerity measures are only on the horizon if the opposition comes to power.” Gulyás said the ruling parties had a “good chance of winning parliamentary majority.”

MTI / PM's press office Photo: Zoltán Fischer

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