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Szijjártó offered to host Russian-Ukrainian talks in Budapest

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Hungary/Ukraine – On Friday, the second day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both sides seemed ready to start talks to end the fighting, which had already spread to the capital, Kiev. While in Brussels, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó proposed to host the negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian leaders in Budapest.

Budapest can serve as a safe place for negotiations

We read that there was a dispute about the choice of location for the negotiations: first Minsk was mentioned, then Warsaw, but there was no agreement.

So I called my colleague Sergey Lavrov and suggested that these talks take place in Budapest. Budapest can serve as a safe place for the Russian and Ukrainian delegations. I also made this proposal to the Ukrainian government, and a few minutes ago I spoke to Andriy Yermak, the head of President Zelensky’s office, and offered him this opportunity.

Fortunately, neither party has turned its back on this possibility. I hope that an exchange of messages will take place between the two sides that will enable these discussions to take place, including in Hungary, as soon as possible. (…) If we can contribute to peace, it is a good thing. Sergey Lavrov and Andriy Yermak did not reject this proposal; they rather thanked us and are in consultation.

I sincerely hope that in a few hours or days, an agreement can be reached to begin talks; the sooner they start, the sooner there will be peace and the fewer people will have to die in this war.

Talks were finally scheduled to take place on Monday on the border between Ukraine and Belarus, with the participation of government officials from both sides.

Welcoming the refugees

The Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, also reiterated his position that Hungary is willing to provide humanitarian aid but does not want to be dragged into the conflict in any way:

Hungary’s security must be guaranteed in this situation, because it is the most important thing. I have made it clear that Hungary will not participate in this war and will not be drawn into it. And

we will make sure that the refugees who arrive in Hungary are properly taken care of.”

Excluding Russia from the SWIFT banking system

On Friday afternoon, the Hungarian Foreign Minister clarified Hungary’s position on the issue of excluding Russia from the SWIFT banking system. Earlier that day, the chairman of the European People’s Party, Donald Tusk, had accused Hungary, Italy, and Germany of opposing this sanction that is being sought by the other member states. Péter Szijjártó reacted by saying:

“I note with regret and astonishment that some politicians and the international press have not refrained from generating and spreading false information and lies. It’s hard for me to imagine how, while a war is going on and people are dying, some people can be running fake news factories. 

Now they are spreading the lie that Hungary is blocking part of the sanctions against Russia, for example regarding the SWIFT system.

Let’s be clear: THIS IS NOT TRUE! We have never spoken out against a single sanction, we have not blocked anything, and we are not blocking anything. 

To those spreaders of false information of all kinds, shame on you! ”