Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg had taken the Hungarian government’s concerns over the rights of ethnic minorities in Ukraine seriously at their talks on Tuesday.
The foreign minister highlighted that the NATO secretary general said he would convene a ministerial-level meeting of the NATO-Ukraine committee during a council of foreign ministers meeting scheduled for April 4, “despite Hungary’s … position that the meeting should only be convened unanimously.” The minister added that Hungary nevertheless acknowledged Stoltenberg’s decision and that a discussion of minority issues would be on the agenda of the meeting. Meanwhile, Minister Szijjártó said the government was proud of Hungarian military developments, adding that Hungary would soon meet NATO’s expectations to spend 2% of GDP on defense. He added that Hungary was already spending 20% of its defense budget on developments. Szijjártó noted that NATO’s Europe commander is scheduled to visit Hungary at the end of the month. Referring to his talks with EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, Szijjártó said Hungary’s energy supplies were safe “thanks to brave investments in recent years”. “Had we not built a south-southeast gas pipeline, the supply of natural gas to Hungary would now be physically impossible.” He added that Hungary would cooperate with Bulgaria, Greece, and Romania to increase diversification through joint infrastructure developments. “I asked the commissioner to treat this as a European issue … Brussels keeps pushing members to buy gas from sources different from the ones we have had; but we know that gas purchases require not only gas but pipelines too,” he said. Szijjártó slammed Croatia’s oil company for turning down a Hungarian offer for a long-term purchase deal, adding that INA “is exploiting the war situation and charging many times the transit fee for oil supplies through the Adria pipeline”. He added that Croatia “has done nothing” to boost the pipeline’s capacity, despite repeated pledges to do so.