In the midst of the cyber attack scandal, Szijjártó in Minsk to build relationship with Russia's war ally

May 29. 2024. – 03:51 PM



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The press has been trying to seek out Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó in recent days to ask him what he said, why, how and to whom about Russian hackers hacking into the Hungarian Foreign Ministry's computer systems in 2021 and essentially being allowed to go in and out as they pleased for years. When the minister finally stood before the cameras, and the same were not being checked by police officers, he said that "anyone launching any sort of attack on our IT systems" had no influence on his foreign policy decisions, either regarding Russia or any other country. “We will make our decisions based on national interest even if they hack into our computer systems, even if they try to do it on a daily or weekly basis, it doesn't matter.”

And to prove how serious he was about this, the very next day he traveled to Minsk with representatives of a host of Hungarian companies for talks with the Belarusian foreign ministry and even received a personalized football jersey of the Belarusian national team.

Szijjártó posted his speech given at the Belarusian-Hungarian business forum on his Facebook page, in which he made several very interesting statements. Right at the beginning of his speech, for example, he said that both Hungary and Belarus have been living "under the shadow of war" for the past two and a half years, as both countries are neighbors of Ukraine. It is worth noting, however, that Belarus is not only a neighbor of Ukraine, but the Russian army launched its invasion of Ukraine partly from its territory. So Péter Szijjártó saying that 'war has been with us' has a slightly deeper meaning when it comes to Belarus than it does in the case of Hungary.

The Hungarian Foreign Minister reiterated that the Hungarian Government does not believe in sanctions, that they have done more harm to the EU economy than to Russia, and said that Hungary would like to expand its economic relations with Belarus in areas not affected by sanctions. In fact, these relations have been steadily developing: last year, trade between the two countries amounted to €142 million, which is up by 20 per cent this year compared to the year before. As an example of Hungary's economic success, the minister said that 9.5 million Hungarian chickens were sold in Belarus last year.

“If the situation were not so serious, one might say that Hungary had invaded Belarus with 9.5 million chickens,” the Hungarian Foreign Minister said, adding that regretfully, this is not the time to joke about things like this.

Szijjártó gave his speech in English but it was posted on Facebook with Hungarian interpretation, and the interpreter used the word "flooding" instead of "invasion", even though it sounds like the minister used the English word "invade". Plus, without it, the minister's so-called joke would not have made sense.

The minister pointed out that the fact that two major Hungarian pharmaceutical companies are among the 100 leading Belarusian firms is a further success of Hungarian-Belarusian economic relations, and that the high number of Hungarian businessmen traveling to Minsk with him is an indication to him that other companies are also keen to take advantage of the opportunities. The minister said that in addition to pharmaceutical companies, representatives of food producing, construction and service companies also joined him on this trip.

Not much was revealed about the one-on-one talks between the two foreign ministers, but Szijjártó announced that the two countries had signed a cooperation agreement related to the nuclear industry, because, he added, the two countries have nuclear power plants with very similar technologies and Hungary is currently building another one, Paks II.

Finally, the minister made a small gesture in the field of sports diplomacy: he expressed regret that the Belarusian football team would not be able to participate in the European Championship and the League of Nations, but said that the teams of Belarusian clubs would be able to play their matches against other European teams in Hungary, because, as the minister said, "sport has nothing to do with geopolitics". And as if to confirm this, at their joint press conference, the Belarusian Foreign Minister presented Szijjártó with a Belarusian national team jersey bearing his name.

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