Hungary has once again refused to support the allocation of a tranche of approximately €500 million from the European Peace Facility to EU member states, demanding the removal of the Hungarian OTP Bank from the list of “war sponsors”. The announcement was made by Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Péter Szijjártó, at a press conference on Monday, as reported by Reuters.
“We are ready to change our stance if Ukrainians put an end to the absurd and deceitful situation where OTP, Hungary’s largest bank, is listed as an international war sponsor,” said Szijjártó.
This is not the first time that Hungary has blackmailed Ukraine and the EU in a similar manner. In May, Hungary already blocked the disbursement of this tranche to member states, citing the same demands.
Hungary is one of several EU countries that refuses to condemn Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and consistently blocks EU assistance to Ukraine. The country remains dependent on energy supplies from Russia, and its government is under direct influence from Moscow.
By exercising its veto power, Hungary has repeatedly blocked EU decisions to support Ukraine and condemn the Russian side. It has even blocked the approval at the European level of the International Criminal Court’s decision in The Hague to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin and children’s ombudsman Maria Lvova-Belova, who are accused of deporting Ukrainian children.
Recently, the EU Council approved a decision to increase the European Peace Facility by €3.5 billion, which will allow for the continuation and expansion of military assistance to Ukraine.
All EU member states contribute to the European Peace Facility. Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the facility has provided significant aid packages to Kyiv for both military and humanitarian purposes.
Established in 2021, the EPF is an off-budget instrument aimed at enhancing the EU’s ability to prevent conflicts, build peace, and strengthen international security.
It is worth mentioning that OTP Bank is among the top 50 largest banks in Russia and is a market leader in several areas. According to the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption (NAPC) data, Hungarian OTP Bank serves over 2.2 million clients and operates in more than 1,850 locations across Russia. It holds the second position in the POS-lending market with a 15.3% market share and ranks eighth in the Russian market for credit cards.
“OTP Bank not only officially recognizes the so-called ‘Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics,’ which are occupied by Russia in Ukraine but also provides preferential loan conditions to Russian military personnel, effectively rewarding them for committing war crimes. Therefore, OTP Group continues to sponsor Russia’s military aggression,” the NAPC statement reads.
Source: The Gaze