As Russian troops stand on the border with Ukraine, Eastern European countries are undoubtedly watching with the most concern. Also Hungary. The country’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, said after his visit to Moscow that he saw no Russian intention to invade and stressed the need to use diplomacy to seek a de-escalation, a message that has been repeated by the country’s foreign minister, Péter Szijjarto, in an interview with Euronews. For Szijjártó, “whenever there is an East-West conflict, the countries of Central Europe tend to lose out.
“We have to do everything possible to avoid the worst case scenario. We have to invest in diplomacy. We have to invest in dialogue. That is why we ask the Russian Federation and our Western allies, the big countries, the strong countries, not to give up hope for a peaceful solution. For us, rather small Central European countries, violent action can be extremely dangerous. So let’s by all means avoid the worst possible scenario.”
Many Eastern European and Baltic countries have received NATO troops on their territory: Poland, Romania, Estonia, etc. But the minister flatly rejects that possibility for his country. “No, we have not agreed to that, and we will not do it because we already have NATO troops on our territory: It is the Hungarian Army and the Hungarian Armed Forces, they are in proper form to ensure the security of the country. So we do not need additional troops on the territory of Hungary.”
When asked about economic sanctions against Russia, the minister’s position is clear: “Sanctions can or should be imposed only in case something happens. Well, that’s the first thing. Second: when it comes to sanctions, they obviously don’t work. We did not want to break European unity. We never veto. We always align ourselves with the decision.
We do not veto it. But if you look at the sanctions themselves, they are a failure. They do not work. They are unsuccessful because if you look at the volume of trade between the big Western European countries, including France, by the way, with the Russian Federation, you will see the figures by how much trade between France and the Russian Federation has increased, trade between Germany and the Russian Federation since the sanctions came into force. So my position is that, if we talk about more sanctions, it is absolutely necessary to make an honest analysis of the impacts of the sanctions that have been imposed”.