A Hungarian official says it would be very difficult for Hungary to join the European Union’s next round of sanctions against Russia after Ukraine blacklisted a Hungarian bank.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó described the move by the Ukrainian National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NAZK) to include Hungarian Bank OTP on its list of “international sponsors of war” as “outrageous.”
He added “that as long as OTP stays on this list, it will be very difficult for us to even enter into negotiations on the eleventh sanctions package,” and “it will be very difficult for us to negotiate economic restrictions that require additional sacrifices.”
In a statement earlier this month, NAZK said the decision to classify OTP bank as an international sponsor of war was “due to the position of the bank’s management to continue operations in Russia” as well the bank’s “recognition of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk ‘people’s republics.’”
The Hungarian Foreign Minister refuted Kyiv’s claims on Monday, saying that as Hungary’s biggest bank, “OTP has not violated any international laws. Its operations fully comply with all kinds of expectations and legislation.”
Szijjártó also said placing the bank “on the list of international sponsors of war is unacceptable and scandalous.”
What the EU is saying: A senior EU official, briefing journalists in Brussels on Wednesday, said the EU’s priority “is to ensure that we can support Ukraine so that they can win,” and that “we’re going to talk to the Ukrainian side. We’ll talk to the Member States, talk to Hungary, of course.”
The senior official said it’s not for the EU “to decide what private banks do. But again, we have to deal with a question that is influencing and affecting decisively one of our main foreign policy objectives, which is to support Ukraine.”
“It’s affecting our decisions on military and financial support. We have to deal with that, we will be dealing with that and I can tell you that the High Representative [Josep Borrell] is already dealing with that,” the official added.
The official also said that EU Foreign Ministers will discuss the issue on Monday in Brussels at a scheduled meeting. The Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will also attend the meeting virtually.