FM: Everything must be done to avoid confrontation with Russia

The foreign minister expressed his hope to the US secretary of state that NATO will never send troops to Ukraine.

Noting that US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also joined part of the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting via video call, Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said he had reminded his colleagues of an earlier NATO decision that “everything must be done to avoid confrontation with Russia”.

“Western and Eastern European statements that don’t exclude deploying troops … are in clear violation of that joint NATO decision,” the foreign minister said, adding that no member had initiated a review of that decision. “I expressed my hope to the US secretary of state that NATO will never send troops” to Ukraine, he said. Increasingly militant statements from the EU or its member states would only make the situation worse, “summoning the spectre of a third world war,” he said. “An EU state sending ground troops to Ukraine would envelop the entire continent in conflagration… We are of the view that this is a grave violation of Article 5, as NATO is a defence alliance,” he said. As Ukraine’s neighbour, Hungary has experienced the consequences of the war first-hand, he said. “Besides the inflow of refugees, our agriculture was nearly brought to its knees by low-quality Ukrainian grain flooding central Europe,” he said. As Polish farmers blocked the roads from Ukraine to that country protesting against the grain glut, much of the freight traffic was re-routed to Hungary, increasing waiting times and workload on the Hungarian-Ukrainian border, he said. On the border at Fenyeslitke, Hungary has set up the largest transfer facility for Ukrainian cargo in international comparison, “only the European liberal mainstream continues to forget” such achievements, he said. With a view to easing the pressure on the border, Szijjártó noted he had talks with Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian presidential office, at the weekend, and they agreed to open another border crossing between Nagyhódos in Hungary and Velyka Palad’ (Nagypalád) in Ukraine, and to further develop the crossing in Beregsurány. “If there is a country constantly facing the tragic consequences of the war … and taking on its burdens, and has the greatest interest in swiftly bringing about peace, it is Hungary,” he said.