Croatian President slams EU’s treatment of Hungary and sanctions against Russia

NEWS 20.01.2023 22:48
Source: F.Z./N1

President Zoran Milanovic on Friday criticised the European Union's treatment of Hungary and the sanctions against Russia, calling the sanctions "a disaster and total nonsense."

Part of the EU cohesion funds for Hungary have been frozen. In order to hold back the funds, the EU has applied the Rule of Conditionality for the first time in its history.

“I see this as one of the most acute problems. Without any clear criteria, according to the logic of the right of the stronger in deciding on money matters, and that is a key issue. The Hungarian ruling party Fidesz has a certain policy, and that policy is somewhat right-wing, but it is European,” Milanovic said at a joint press conference with Hungarian President  Katalin Novák.

Speaking about EU sanctions against Russia due to the war in Ukraine, Milanovic said that “the sanctions are a disaster and total nonsense.”

“They aren’t working and it’s a question of how much damage it will cause to Europe. In addition, we have brought Russia and China closer together,” Milanovic claimed.

Novák said that the Croatian president is “liked far and wide” and that he “acts bravely on the European stage.” She added that Milanovic is her first “foreign guest” since she was elected in March 2022.

President Milanovic will later meet with Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and on Saturday he will attend the official opening of the European Year of Culture in Vesprim.

Prior to arriving in Hungary, Milanovic said for himself that he was “one of the few people in Europe who dare to go” to Hungary and that Brussels bureaucrats were “horribly terrorising” the country.

Milanovic said that today Hungary is being punished while in the future that could befall a bigger country, citing the example of Poland, which was “a thorn in Brussels’ side.” That changed however after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“The European project is magnificent and beautiful, it prevented warfare, made prosperity possible, it is economically successful, but we have to free ourselves from the illusion that we are all equal because we are not. The EU cannot function according to an upright system where we will all behave like the bureaucracy in Brussels and its political mentors, but we will be open to differences. The right of the state to be run the way its people chooses is a key thing,” said Milanovic.

Brussels has frozen part of Hungary’s cohesion funds, accusing Prime Minister Orban’s government of disrespecting the rule of law. Hungary is the latest country to have a post-pandemic recovery plan approved by the European Commission.

Although Hungary has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is adamant that it won’t send weapons and claims that the war would come to an end if sending weapons to that country ceases.

The Hungarian president said that everyone agrees on several points, namely the condemnation of Russian aggression against Ukraine, the continuation of the European integration of the Western Balkans, the solution to the problem of the Europe-bound irregular migrations and the solution to the demographic crisis.

“Our position is that we condemn Russia’s aggression and attack on Ukraine, a sovereign independent state, and we supported its territorial integrity and sovereignty from the first moment. That is quite clear,” she said.

Ahead of the meeting with Orban, Milanovic said that it is more difficult for the Hungarian prime minister than it is for him because his powers are greater and that Hungary’s energy problems are greater because Hungary is highly dependent on Russian energy and poorly diversified.

President Novák too said that Budapest is looking for an opportunity for diversification and welcomed any solution that helps her country.

We are counting on Croatia as well, she said in this context.

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