Pressure mounts on Hungary to ease its obstruction of EU military aid to Ukraine

Pressure mounts on Hungary to ease its obstruction of EU military aid to Ukraine
Hungary’s top diplomat Peter Szijjarto falsely claimed the EU wants to introduce the draft. / bne IntelliNews
By Tamas Csonka in Budapest May 28, 2024

Hungary came under "enormous" pressure to ease obstruction of EU military aid to Ukraine at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels amid growing exasperation among its partners, according to reports by local and international media on May 27.

In a Facebook post after the meeting, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto said Hungary is sticking to its earlier position and has not backed the freeing up of a further €6.5bn from the European Peace Facility for arms deliveries to Ukraine. EU member states have continued giving bilateral military aid to Ukraine but repayments to them by the facility have been halted by the Hungarian veto.

The Hungarian hold-up also threatens to delay the spending of billions more in profits from frozen Russian central bank assets that the EU expects to start receiving in July.

Hungary also opposes the latest round of sanctions, the fourteenth, as the draft, in its current form, went against Hungary's economic interests and could put the security of the country's energy supply at risk, he added.

Szijjarto said he had held firm to the government's position advocating peace and avoiding any escalation of the war in spite of "enormous pressure" from his colleagues.

The countdown to the European parliamentary elections is unfortunately bringing about an increase in war sentiment, Hungary’s top diplomat said.

In his social media post, Hungary’s top diplomat falsely made the claim that the EU wants to introduce the draft, as any decision of compulsory conscription is made at the national level.

"We don’t want to see Hungarians at the front line of the Ukraine-Russia war," he said, echoing the government’s warmongering campaign rhetoric, accusing Hungarian opposition and its allies of a pro-war stance for providing assistance to Ukraine to defend itself.

Frustration over Hungary’s pro-Russian position is growing among EU members.

"We have always topics with Hungary," Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna told DPA news agency.

Currently, €1.5bn from the EPF is being blocked by Hungary and a further €5bn from the Ukraine Assistance Fund is also blocked, he noted.

About 41% of resolutions by the EU on Ukraine have been blocked by Hungary, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said.

"We have to start seeing this as a systematic approach towards any efforts by the EU to have any meaningful role in foreign affairs," he added.

Szijjarto accused Landsbergis of being the most pro-war politician in the EU. In his social media post, he acknowledged that there was a tense atmosphere at the meeting, adding that "there is no reason to shout at us, we are on the side of peace".

Josep Borrell, the EU's top diplomat, said the EU cannot let military support to Ukraine be taken hostage because "of other decisions which have nothing to do with the specific issue", hinting that Hungary was blocking the decision in order to extort the unfreezing of EU aid, which has been halted because of the Orban regime's violations of the rule of law.