Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (r) and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev at a joint press conference in Budapest on January 30, 2023.

Hungary ‘Blocking EU Military Aid to Armenia’

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By Heghine Buniatian

YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Hungary is blocking the European Union from providing modest military assistance to Armenia, a diplomatic source told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on April 30.

After months of deliberations, the 27-nation bloc moved earlier this year to approve such “non-lethal” aid from its European Peace Facility, a special fund designed to boost EU partners’ defense capacity.

A relevant draft document seen by RFE/RL’s Armenian Service in mid-April calls for 10 million euros (about $11 million) to be provided to the Armenian military over the next two-and-a-half years. The money would mainly be spent on creating a field hospital and auxiliary facilities for a battalion-size army unit. Its allocation requires the unanimous backing of all EU member states.

The European source that did not want to be identified said Hungary has for weeks been vetoing the decision and demanding that similar aid also be allocated to Azerbaijan. EU leaders are considering meeting Budapest’s demand in hopes of overcoming the deadlock, added the source.

Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto at a joint news conference with his Armenian counterpart, Yerevan, October 27, 2023.

In early April, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev warned Western powers against “arming Armenia,” including through the European Peace Facility. Aliyev has long maintained a warm relationship with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

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Unlike other EU member states, Hungary has openly supported Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Hungarian Foreign Ministry reaffirmed that support three days after the outbreak of the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war in Karabakh.

Armenia’s former leadership froze diplomatic relations with Hungary in 2012 after Orban’s government controversially extradited to Azerbaijan an Azerbaijani army officer who hacked to death a sleeping Armenian colleague in Budapest in 2004. The officer, Ramil Safarov, was pardoned, rewarded and promoted by Aliyev on his return to Azerbaijan.

The current Armenian government decided to restore the diplomatic ties in 2022 even though Hungary never apologized for Safarov’s release and continued to support Azerbaijan. Last September, Budapest reportedly vetoed a statement by the EU member states condemning the Azerbaijani military offensive that displaced Nagorno-Karabakh’s entire population and restored Baku’s control over the region.

One month later, Armenian leaders received Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto in Yerevan. Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturyan visited Budapest in February this year.

 

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