Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON


Orbán claims Brussels ‘deceived’ Hungary over Ukrainian grain


Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has criticised the European Commission and its role in the dispute over Ukrainian gain.

Talking to the parliament plenary, Orbán said Brussels had “deceived” the country.

He mentioned “Brussels” 34 times in his speech, describing EU officials as nothing short of liars.

EU authorities pushed for a corridor for Ukrainian grain transit to protect African countries against severe famine. Hungary complied, Orbán said, adding: “Let us say it straight. We have been deceived!”

He continued: “The Ukrainian grain was not exported to Africa, but is sold here in Hungary, at a lower price than Hungarian farmers’ grain, squeezing the country out of our own market.”

Orbán said the Ukrainian grain was thus “dumped on the Hungarian market” and bypassed local quality standards.

An EU import ban ended on September 15. “The Brussels authorities lifted the import ban in favour of Ukraine. This seriously harms the interests of Central European countries and ruins Hungarian farmers,” Orbán said.

He repeated his call on Brussels to “stand up” for Central European Member States and “not to betray” Hungary.

On September 21, Ukraine filed a complaint against Hungary, Poland and Slovakia with the WTO after they imposed unilateral import bans on Ukrainian food products.

Yulia Svyrydenko, Ukraine’s first deputy prime minister, said her country saw such restrictions as a violation of the EU states’ international obligations.

Another point of contention was Hungary’s minority population in Ukraine. Orbán accused Kyiv of wanting to erase their identity and forcibly turn them into Ukrainians.

“We will not support Ukraine at any point in international relations until it restores previous laws that guaranteed the rights of trans-Carpathian Hungarians,” he said.

Orbán went on to talk about migration, highlighting that Brussels pushed through the Migration Pact despite strong protests from Poland and Hungary.

He claimed the Pact is already in tatters, with scenes of the recent deluge of migrant arrivals on the Italian island of Lampedusa reminiscent of “an invasion”.

At the same time, he said, his own country had stopped 128,000 “intrusion attempts”. He added that European policies attract more migrants, and the situation at the EU’s borders is becoming increasingly problematic.

“There will only be a European solution if Brussels understands and accepts that only those whose applications have already been assessed beforehand and who have been given permission to enter European Union territory will be allowed to enter European Union territory,” he said.

Orbán said there was another fight going on between Brussels and Budapest, with the latter wanting to keep some control over its economy while using taxes levied on “speculating multinationals, extra profits of banks and energy companies” to support Hungary’s poorest.

Europe wants to liberalise all of this, Orbán claimed, adding: “We cannot give multinationals carte blanche to freely raise prices again and skyrocket their profits,” invoking dark images of Hungary’s history of economic despair.

“I think we should do exactly the opposite of what Brussels demands,” he said. “We are not part of the ‘Jawohl countries’ [“Yes-men”] that oblige when Brussels commands.”