No one can accuse the Hungarian Foreign Minister, Péter Szijjártó, of not speaking out. Neither his country supports sanctions against Russia for the war in Ukraine, nor does he believe it is beneficial for European politicians to ignore the Russians, nor does he believe that his government should be held accountable to Brussels. Hungary has chosen not to cut ties with Moscow as it distances itself from the positions of its European partners. Visiting Barcelona on the occasion of the VII forum of the Union for the Mediterranean, Szijjártó accused the European "establishment" of not betting on peace.
This year more delegations than ever have attended the Mediterranean Summit.
It's because of the war in Ukraine. It is a regional war, with a global impact. We all understand the importance of cooperation in trying to reduce its impact.
Was Orbán's decision to wear a Greater Hungary map scarf during a national team match appropriate?
Don't worry, Hungary has no intention of occupying anyone. Historical Hungary existed and now it doesn't. We are not revisionists. Hungarians, wherever they live, consider the national team as their own. There are already enough problems to create with things that are innocent.
They accuse them of having an ambiguous relationship with Russia. You yourself met Sergei Lavrov hours after the European partners agreed not to meet with Russian officials.
We are a neighboring country of Ukraine, the impact of the war on us is immediate and serious. I understand that countries hundreds of miles – or even an ocean away – view this issue differently. Our main goal is peace. For this reason, unlike others, we speak the rhetoric of peace and not that of escalation. We urge a ceasefire and further negotiations. If we abandon the channels of communication, we also abandon hopes for peace. I regret that many Europeans are not ready to talk to the Russians. Talking does not mean that we accept what they are doing. And no one can decide if the foreign minister of a sovereign country is meeting with anyone. I meet who I want and no one in the EU can tell me what I should or shouldn't do. I am very sorry that I was the only European leader to meet Sergei Lavrov at the UN General Assembly. Not talking to Russia is a mistake.
What is the rhetoric of escalation?
Putting all our eggs in one basket called penalties is a mistake. The expectations in Brussels were that the sanctions would help stop the war. After nine months and eight packages of sanctions, the war is not over, the Russian economy is not on its knees and the European one is heading towards recession. The response we have given to the war, which we condemn and is unacceptable, has been less painful for them than for us.
The EU is supposed to share values and objectives.
The values of the EU are respected by all. But there is a big debate about what the EU should be like. Many countries and the establishment in Brussels want to see this integration as a United States of Europe, we are against it. We think that the EU must be a strong alliance of strong states that respects the diversity of Europe. There are some aspects that culturally belong to some nations, such as the electoral system or the concept of family. In Hungary, we still believe that the family consists of a mother, a father and the children. That is our way of thinking.
Not all Hungarians think the same.
Most, believe me.
Europe seeks to diversify its suppliers to avoid dependence on Russian gas.
Energy is not a matter of ideology. It is a physical matter. If you use gas, and we use a lot, you need to have someone to buy from and a route for it to get there. We've done a lot to try to diversify. But with the infrastructure we have today, it is impossible for our country to function without Russian gas. It would be possible in five or ten years, but we have to eat today. Physically, not politically, we are dependent on the Russians. Thats the reality.
The European Commission will recommend freezing funds for Hungary due to corruption.
The Commission asked us to adopt a series of regulations and Parliament approved them. Now it turns out that it is not a legal problem. They do not like us. We are a clearly right-wing, patriotic, conservative government… We are not mainstream liberals. What's more, we are against him. That is the reason for his political attacks.