Hungary fully supports NATO’s stance on the need to maintain “strategic dialogue with Russia” in the interest of preventing an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine and any “tragic consequences due to certain misunderstandings”, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Sunday.
Addressing a press conference during a break in an informal meeting with his NATO counterparts in Berlin, Szijjártó said Hungary welcomed this week’s phone call between the US secretary of defence and Russia’s defence minister. The situation concerning the war is “extremely fragile” and requires great caution, Szijjártó said. “We, of course, understand and respect that quite a few member states” are aiding Ukraine with weapons deliveries, he said, adding, at the same time, that it was crucial that those deliveries are not made “within the framework of NATO”. The members of the alliance agree that “NATO is not sending weapons into this conflict”, he said. The reason why Hungary has decided not to send weapons to its north-eastern neighbour and has banned the transit of weapons deliveries through its territory into Ukraine is to ensure that the country does not get dragged into the war, he added.
Concerning the humanitarian aspects of the crisis, Szijjártó said he had told the meeting that Hungary has taken in almost 700,000 refugees from Ukraine. “We of course allow entry to everyone fleeing the war and provide care for them,” he said. Based on the “dynamics” of the war, the number of refugees entering Hungary is not declining, and Hungary is prepared to help anyone fleeing the war, he said.
As regards NATO’s planned new Strategic Concept, Szijjártó said the alliance must also pay attention to “security challenges” from the south as well as terrorism and illegal migration. Terrorist groups are looking to take advantage of the fact that Europe’s focus is on the war in Ukraine, and with both Russia and Ukraine being among the world’s top grain exporters, a fall in exports due to the conflict could cause serious food shortages in areas that are already less stable, Szijjártó said. This could lead to a rise in extremism and terrorism, which in turn could lead to the emergence of new migration waves, he added.