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Hungary sees the European Union’s sanctions against persons and institutions in Myanmar and China as “pointless, grandstanding and harmful”, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said. Speaking to Hungarian press on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, Szijjártó said such strategic decisions were “particularly senseless” at a time when international cooperation was gaining special significance as “a tool to save lives rather than [introducing] austerity measures”. The sanctions will further poison EU-China ties, relations the former could profit from greatly “if cooperation could be based on rational thinking,” Szijjártó said.
The EU approved sanctions against 11 Myanmar citizens and four legal entities registered there in response to their role in the Feb. 1 coup in the country and in the bloody repercussions against demonstrations there. The sanctions list also contains four Chinese citizens.
Meanwhile, regarding the Cotonou Agreement between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), Szijjártó said it has “become a pro-migration agreement aimed at increasing migration pressure on the bloc’s member states.” Szijjártó said the agreement, which is being extended after its expiration in December 2020, “completely ignores the new reality that millions of people have lost their jobs in Europe”. “Now is not the time to inspire people from the [ACP] region to come to Europe,” he said. The EU’s priority should be to tackle the challenges closer to home and to create jobs for everyone who have lost theirs due to the coronavirus pandemic, he said.
Szijjártó also noted that the European Commission planned to approve the document in a way that would not need the ratification of individual member states. Hungary will fight against such a procedure with all means at its disposal, he said, calling it “unacceptable” that “Brussels should launch a new attack to ramp up migration in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic”. “We insist on national parliaments having a say in whether they want to ratify a pro-migration document,” he added.
Commenting on talks between the EU foreign affairs council and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Szijjártó said Hungary was deeply committed to protecting human rights, including the rights of ethnic minorities. Szijjártó insisted that minority rights were being “employed discriminatively” in international politics. “They try to ignore” the rights of religious and national minorities contrary to the rights of “other kinds of minorities”, he said. Meanwhile, the rights of ethnic minorities is violated in many places around the world, he said, citing Ukraine as an example, saying that “systematic violations” of the rights of Hungarian ethnic minorities were ongoing there. “We expect the UN and the EU to be at least as vocal on this issue as they are on real or alleged human rights abuses a thousand kilometres away. We expect them to champion the rights of ethnic minorities at least as strongly as those of other minorities,” Szijjártó said. Although Christians are among the most persecuted religious communities around the world, that fact is barely noted in international documents, he said. Hungary wants this discriminative practice to stop, he said.