Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said the war in Ukraine has triggered a “triple” energy, food security and economic crisis which is only being aggravated by the measures adopted by Brussels.
Speaking in Brussels on Thursday, after a meeting of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council, the foreign minister said the only solution to the situation is peace. Citing data from the United Nations, Minister Szijjártó said that a total of 94 countries were affected by at least two of the three crises caused by the war. Though energy prices have stabilised, they are now at a much higher level, and inflation and rising interest rates have deprived several countries, including Hungary, of their growth potential, he said. Minister Szijjártó warned of the potential security risks posed by the food crisis, arguing that because it affected the most vulnerable African and Middle Eastern countries the most, it could easily lead to violence, a rise in the threat of terrorism and eventually the emergence of a new migration wave. “And Europe, in its current state, would be incapable of handling another mass migration wave,” the minister said. He said Brussels’s “severely flawed” responses to the “triple crisis” were “raising the price of the war in Europe even higher”. Instead of restricting energy imports, Europe should have increased them, he said. Also, Brussels is hindering member states in their own energy production, too, he said, noting the “pressure to impose sanctions on nuclear energy”. “I would like to make it clear here and now that this will definitely not happen,” Minister Szijjártó said. “Hungary will not approve any kind of nuclear sanction, no matter how minimal it may be.” Turning to the economy, Minister Szijjártó said that while the United States had introduced “patriotic measures”, the EU had only imposed more sanctions. “The American measure is good for every American economic player, while the measures introduced by Brussels … have practically totally knocked out European economic competitiveness,” he said. As regards the food crisis, Minister Szijjártó lamented that Ukrainian grain, instead of being shipped to the African and Middle Eastern countries where it was most needed, had got stuck in central Europe and had “ruined” local farmers. “In a situation like this, it would have been the European Commission’s duty to take immediate action…” Minister Szijjártó said. “So it basically became clear that Brussels can’t be counted on when it comes to such a critical issue … If we don’t protect Hungarian farmers, no one will do it for us.” Talks on a solution are ongoing, he said, adding that the Hungarian government would only approve a decision that guaranteed Ukrainian grain exports not ending up in central Europe. He said the “dumping” of Ukrainian grain on local markets was “unacceptable”, noting that EU farmers had to comply with an “entirely different” set of rules than Ukrainian farmers. “The only solution to this immense set of challenges is peace,” Minister Szijjártó said. “If the war could be brought to an end, if a ceasefire could be achieved and if peace talks could be held, there would be real hope for successfully managing this triple crisis.”