"Shocked" Hungarian FM Visits Belarus Despite EU Sanctions

  • 30 May 2024 8:54 AM
  • Hungary Matters
"Shocked" Hungarian FM Visits Belarus Despite EU Sanctions
The Hungarian government wants to develop its cooperation with Belarus in all areas that are not affected by the EU’s sanctions against Russia, the foreign minister said in Minsk, adding that Belarus was also ready to cooperate.

Péter Szijjártó also noted that he was accompanied by representatives of 24 Hungarian companies on his visit, and added that the delegation was set to have 92 bilateral talks while in Minsk.

Szijjártó called Belarus as “an extremely important factor” in Hungarian energy security, noting that 80% of Hungary’s crude oil supplies come through Belarus, with a total of 4.5 million tonnes last year and nearly 2 million tonnes delivered since the start of 2024.

Secure oil supplies to Hungary “would be impossible without the Druzhba pipeline”, he said. He noted that “no other pipeline of such capacity comes to Hungary”.

Meanwhile, Szijjártó said in the next sports season Hungary would continue to offer an opportunity for Belarusian sports teams to play their matches in Hungary “just as it had done in the case of Israel and Ukraine.”

He noted that Israel’s national football team, the Ukrainian handball team and Belarusian teams had played cup matches in Hungary in the past season.

The Hungarian government is against “mixing up geopolitics and sports” and “we are also against political factors determining who is allowed to compete in the Olympic Games and who is not,” he said.

Addressing a Hungary-Belarus business forum, Szijjártó said: “We Hungarians do not believe in a policy of sanctions. That policy, in our experience over the past two and a half years, has failed, caused enormous damage, and more to European economies than to the Russian”.

He noted that bilateral trade totalled 142 million euros last year and has already grown by an annual 20% so far this year.

Company leaders in the delegation he is heading represent the food, agriculture, pharmaceutical, construction and machinery sectors, the minister said.

Szijjártó said that the Hungarian government will continue to allow Belarusian nationals to obtain a Hungarian visa without restrictions, adding that “we will not accept any sort of pressure on the matter”.

Citizens of Belarus can apply for a visa in eight cities, he added. Speaking about cooperation in education, the minister mentioned the government scheme ensuring 50 yearly grants for Belarusian students studying at a Hungarian university.

Szijjártó in Minsk Warns of War Escalation

Hungary “is shocked” by statements about sending Western troops to Ukraine, the possible use of nuclear weapons and even introducing conscription in Europe, the foreign minister said in Minsk.

Both countries must face the “dramatic consequences” of the war in Ukraine on a daily basis, Péter Szijjártó said at a joint press conference with Belarusian counterpart Sergei Aleinik.

“We Hungarians have already paid a huge price irrespective of the fact that it is not at all our war … Hungary’s goal is clear: we want to stay out of that war in neighbouring Ukraine.”

He insisted that there was no military solution to the war, adding that “in the battlefield there are only death and destruction”.

“But as long as we are in government in Hungary, we will not allow a single Hungarian to be taken to the Ukraine-Russia front… We strongly protest against introducing mandatory conscription in Europe,” he said.

Meanwhile, Szijjártó said Hungary and Belarus have signed a nuclear energy cooperation deal under which “Belarusian experience could be used in the Paks upgrade project”.

“I hope that Belarusian companies can soon join US, German, and French companies that are currently working at the Paks nuclear plant construction as partners of Rosatom,” he added.


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