The country’s foreign ministers are said to have quarreled after Annalena Baerbock claimed that an important Hungarian bank is a ?war sponsor?
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has clashed with her Hungarian counterpart, Peter Szijjarto, over allegations leveled at a leading Hungarian financial institution, Politico reports.
Last week, Budapest blocked a package of EU aid to Ukraine and further sanctions against Russia, demanding that Kiev remove OTP Bank from its list of “war sponsors”.
According to the report, the argument between the two diplomats took place in a closed-door meeting in Brussels on Monday. The media outlet, citing unnamed officials present at the event, reported that several member states, including Sweden and Estonia, called on Hungary to stop stalling the EU’s punitive measures against Russia.
In response, Szijjarto repeated Budapest’s complaint about Ukraine’s claims that OTP Bank is complicit in or supporting Moscow’s actions.
The German foreign minister joined in, claiming that the Hungarian bank has recognized the Lugansk and Donetsk regions as Russian territories, and that it has extended credit to Russian military personnel, Politico said.
While Hungary and the other member states failed to resolve their differences, the exchange was “civilized and within a normal framework of discussion,” one of the sources told the media.
On Wednesday, Hungary’s top diplomat made it clear that Budapest would continue to block the allocation of additional EU funds to Ukraine unless Kiev abandons its “increasingly belligerent” attitude towards his country.
Left in limbo as a result is a 500 million euro ($544 million) military aid package from the European Peace Facility (EPF).
Szijjarto also noted that the future of further sanctions against Russia depends on whether or not Ukraine agrees to change tack.
Among other complaints, the minister raised the issue of OTP Bank, Hungary’s biggest lender, which was put on the list of “international war sponsors” by the Ukrainian authorities earlier this month.
Szijjarto insisted that the bank “did not violate any law of Ukraine, did not violate any international law, nor did it violate any sanctions measures.”
Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Agency (NCPA) announced the move that the bank provides “favorable loan terms to [members of] the Russian military”, including deferred payments on loans.
OTP Bank released a statement dismissing the allegations, saying it “always follows Ukrainian and international legal norms in its operations.”