Foreign Minister calls for earliest possible peace in Ukraine

The foreign minister said the international community’s primary task should be to save lives.

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said the international community’s primary task should be to save lives, so in spite of “attacks and pressures”, the government is sticking to its standpoint and calling for the earliest possible peace in Ukraine.

Addressing a meeting of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg, Minister Szijjártó said he had asked to speak before Europe’s broadest political platform in the interest of promoting dialogue, even though many participants likely disagreed with his position, according to a ministry statement. The minister said Europe now faced the most severe economic and security challenges since the second world war, and it was a question of whether the regional conflict would broaden into a world war. Some European leaders, he insisted, suffered from “war psychosis”. Ordinary people, he added, were not responsible for the war in Ukraine, yet everyone was paying the price in the form of skyrocketing inflation. In the 16 months since the war broke out, Europe, he said, had been unable to end it and establish peace. “The danger of escalation is at a high point, while our competitiveness has hit an all-time low,” he added.

Minister Szijjártó said Europe had committed two major errors by burrowing ever deeper into its sanctions policy while refusing not to compete with the US regarding who could provide more significant military support to Ukraine. The war is taking place in Europe, he said, and its gravest consequences “must be faced here”. Europe, he added, had got caught up in a “distinctly dangerous spiral”. “As more weapons end up in Ukraine, the longer the war lasts … ever more people die,” he said, adding that the international community’s most pressing task was to save lives by securing the peace. He said punitive measures had failed to bring Russia to heel; conversely, the fighting had only become increasingly brutal. Hungary, he said as a neighbouring state of Ukraine was seriously and directly faced with the war’s fallout, and many Transcarpathian Hungarians had fallen victim to the war.

Minister Szijjártó also decried “waning European competitiveness”, noting that the US had adopted laws skewed in favour of its own industries just as the EU placed companies under hardship on the back of sanctions. The world, he said, was once again falling into rivalling blocs, which was “the worst possible news” for Hungary. Central Europe, he added, had always lost out when it came to conflicts between East and West. He called for “civilised cooperation” between East and West in place of conflict. “We’d support links based on mutual respect and mutual benefits,” he said, warning against slashing EU-China economic ties. Citing the transition of the electric car industry, he said the sector, “decisive for the entire European economy”, was fully dependent on Chinese batteries, “so for this reason alone a fissure would be highly problematic”. Whereas Hungary represents a minority position on the war in Europe, “the world is bigger than Europe and the transatlantic region, and the vast majority of countries want peace as soon as possible,” he said, adding that the Hungarian government was under constant attack and pressure for its position, but it was pursuing national interests in line with “the will of the people”.