'Putin wouldn't be arrested in Hungary' – Gulyás

March 23. 2023. – 12:50 PM



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The Hungarian government's regular, weekly press briefing was held on Thursday by Gergely Gulyás, Minister of the Prime Minister's Office, and Government Spokesperson Alexandra Szentkirályi. Below are the main points addressed.

The US report is nothing but a smear campaign

It is a shame for allies to be making frivolous accusations against each other – Gulyás said about the criticism from US Ambassador to Hungary, David Pressman. The diplomat recently said that the Kremlin had previously rejected criticism of Russia's human rights violations in the same way as the Hungarian government did in response to the US State Department's human rights report on Hungary.

The minister remarked that the US government wrote the report out of disappointment and frustration after having unnecessarily paid out 4 billion forints to the opposition in last year's election campaign. The document has no legal relevance and the allegations are factually untrue, they are lies and nothing but a smear campaign, he said.

The Hungarian government also has serious concerns about human rights in the US, but until now they didn't think it was Hungary's responsibility to report on them,

Gulyás said.

He also added that the task of an ambassador is to work on the alliance between two countries. Gulyás wished US Ambassador David Pressman all the best in his endeavours to this effect.

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On Sweden’s NATO accession

The minister said that the debate in the governing parties' parliamentary faction about supporting Sweden's accession to NATO is ongoing. There is support for the Finns already, and he hopes that the same will be the case for the Swedes. Gulyás said that he doesn't know anything about what the Fidesz faction has against the Swedes – even though he himself is a member of said faction.

He does see the "collective speculation" about support for Sweden, but he doesn't think support for Swedish accession will be dragged out much longer in the group, and considers it a "serious possibility" that it will happen before the end of spring, he said.

On the NATO-Ukraine Commission

According to the Minister of the Prime Minister's Office, the NATO-Ukraine Commission – which the Hungarian government has continuously blocked and to which Hungary has not been invited – cannot be more than a friendly discussion. Gulyás added that no decision can be made on Ukraine's NATO membership without Hungarian consent.

On the Hungarian-Ukrainian relationship

The Hungarian government would be happy to improve its relationship with Ukraine if the Ukrainians would amend their education law, Gergely Gulyás said. According to the minister, the law contains measures that trample all European values underfoot by restricting the use of the Hungarian language, and the Hungarian government has taken all possible diplomatic steps to protest it.

The Hungarian government would only support Ukraine's EU membership if the language use of the Transcarpathian Hungarians were guaranteed. According to Gulyás, the superpowers are not interested in human rights when it comes to a real violation of rights, such as the use of the language of the Hungarians in Transcarpathia.

To a question about when Prime Minister Orbán will go to Ukraine, Gulyás said this would happen "when the meeting makes sense and there would be tangible results, for example on the situation of minorities in Transcarpathia".

On EU funds to be paid out to Hungary

According to Gulyás, there is no legal basis for the continued delay of the EU funds' arrival to Hungary, and the question instead is whether the Commission will examine viewpoints "that are outside the law".

"As far as we are concerned, the funds could come as early as April, we have done everything on our end", Gulyás said, and added that the Commission was not behaving lawfully.

According to the minister, EU funds are being blocked because of Hungary’s judicial reform. Justice Minister Judit Varga has already reached an agreement with the Commission about the bill, and the government has sent out the draft law, but the European Commission has not yet sent it back. He said that it was hard not to speculate as to why we are still waiting for feedback ten days after the Justice Minister negotiated all the elements with the Commission members.

Putin wouldn’t be arrested in Hungary

We couldn't arrest the Russian President if he were to come to Hungary, because the Convention of the ICC has not been promulgated in Hungary, Gergely Gulyás said. It is no coincidence that this has not happened, he added, because the convention is contrary to the Hungarian constitution, as (former president) János Áder had pointed out several times in the past.

The government did not take a position on Putin's arrest warrant, but Gulyás said they considered the decision unfortunate because it was not leading towards peace.

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