Gulyás: Hungary’s security is of paramount importance

The Hungarian government has “firmly decided” not to send troops to Ukraine, neither will it allow weapons to be transported across the Hungary-Ukraine border.

Gergely Gulyás, Head of the Prime Minister's Office, said Hungary’s security is of paramount importance in the current situation. “It is in the country’s explicit interest that it should not get dragged into the war.” The Hungarian government has “firmly decided” not to send troops to Ukraine, neither will it allow weapons to be transported across the Hungary-Ukraine border.

Referring to “expert opinion and available information”, Gulyás said there was a fair chance that “such shipments could be destroyed”, adding that the Hungarian decision served the security of Transcarpathia and its people. The security of the local ethnic Hungarian minority is of prime importance, Gulyás said. Many have been forced to leave Ukraine, he said, but added that men between 18 and 60 were now forbidden to leave the country, therefore “many families have decided to stay”.

Gulyás also noted the government’s position that refugees should be accommodated in the first safe country, which, for Ukrainian refugees, was Hungary. The minister noted the importance of providing humanitarian aid, adding that the government was working to coordinate and contribute to the aid campaign launched by civil groups. Border crossing stations are open continuously, while the government has appointed facilities to provide accommodation and help centres in six towns near the border in an effort to “help every refugee”, Gulyás said. According to Wednesday’s figures, some 120,000 people have crossed from Ukraine into Hungary, Gulyás said. The government has allocated HUF 1.3 billion to Hungary’s charity organizations, he said, adding that the sum may be increased. Hungary is a transit country for some of the refugees, especially for nationals of third countries that have so far been staying in Ukraine legally, but there are also ethnic Hungarians with family and friends in Hungary “with a place to go to, at least provisionally”, the minister said.

The government has sent aid to Transcarpathia worth HUF 600 million, including 30 tonnes of food and 100 litres of fuel, Gulyás said. Another shipment of medical aid worth HUF 140 million has just left Hungary, he added. Hungary will “do everything to help not only those who have fled to Hungary but those also who have stayed”, he said. Hungary backs all sanctions against Russia that have the support of the rest of the EU, Gulyás said, adding that “Hungary has not used its veto and will not do so”. Hungary condemns Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, Gulyás said. “War is an unacceptable way to resolve disputes”, he said. He warned, however, that “one must be careful with sanctions because it is important that the price of war should not be paid by the peoples of Hungary and Europe.” “There are grave differences of opinion concerning sanctions, and measures should not be taken that impact Europe’s residents more than those that the sanctions are aimed against,” Gulyás said. He insisted that “some are demanding sanctions in areas where it could hurt us, such as in the energy sector”. He said that buying the electricity produced by the Paks nuclear plant on the market would cost the average Hungarian household an annual HUF 260,000 extra.

Concerning businesses that have already been impacted by the sanctions, Gulyás said Sberbank Hungary had some 70,000 clients who would receive compensation of up to 100,000 euros each. Twelve Hungarian municipalities among depositors of larger amounts will receive assistance from central coffers, he added. The minister called on “all political forces to set aside their own political interests” and contribute to creating “national unity concerning issues of security and war”. He said it was “regrettable” that the left wing “seems to disregard the perils of the war situation for Europe and Hungary”. He slammed Péter Márki-Zay, prime ministerial candidate of the united opposition, for “calling refugees from Transcarpathia pro-Russian”. The country’s security is “even more important than the upcoming elections”, he said, adding that “making irresponsible remarks in this situation is especially harmful.”

Photo credit: MTI