István Nagy, the agriculture minister, told public radio at the weekend that the leaders of the European Union are not protecting the EU’s interests. “We are witnessing multinational big capital’s move to acquire new markets,” he said.
Commenting on the Hungarian government’s decision to maintain and expand the ban on Ukrainian grain produce on its own authority, Nagy said in the interview that the European Union was protecting “so-called Ukrainian farmers” who were “in fact US, Saudi and Dutch companies and investors”.
Hungary proposed that the EU set up a transit fee fund to support land transport of Ukrainian grain produce so that it may be transported to Africa and the Arab Peninsula from Croatian and Nordic free ports, he noted. The EU ban expired on Sept 15, and the EC decided against prolonging it, saying that the measures taken since May had eliminated market distortions in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, the beneficiaries of the ban. Contrary to those statements, the European markets still suffer from a glut, he said. Meanwhile, the decision to lift the ban emerged after talks between EC President Ursula von der Leyen and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, rather than consultations with the ministers of the countries in question, he said. Hungary’s decision to expand the ban to rapeseed, sunflower seed, flour, cooking oil, honey, eggs and certain meats was a “very brave and tough decision” since such decisions are not normally within the power of member states, he said. Slovakia and Poland joined the decision and Romania is also expected to, while Bulgaria demurred, he added. At the same time, Ukrainian produce will be delivered to traditional markets in Africa and the Arab Peninsula, to prevent a “famine triggering a wave of migration with unforeseeable consequences,” he said on Facebook. The agriculture ministry has proposed establishing a fund to aid transit to ensure that Ukrainian products find their way out of Europe, he said. “Large Ukrainian agricultural companies owned by international corporations are not aiming to trade with third-world countries but to rule European markets, which is going to land the farmers of all member states in serious difficulties,” Nagy said. European citizens have an interest in products produced under controlled circumstances, he said. “It is sad to see that Brussels can’t see that and supports Ukrainian producers rather than European farmers,” he said. “We will continue to protect the interests of Hungarian farmers,” he added.