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Kyiv removes Hungary bank OTP from blacklist in bid to unlock EU aid

Kyiv removes Hungary bank OTP from blacklist in bid to unlock EU aid

by host

The Ukrainian National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) announced on Friday that it temporarily removed Hungary’s OTP Bank from a list of “international sponsors of war,” a move the agency said was aimed at securing Budapest’s support for the latest package of EU military aid to Ukraine.

The anti-corruption agency said in a statement that the decision was the result of negotiations with the bank and officials in Budapest. A permanent removal from the blacklist will depend on the bank’s willingness to terminate cooperation with Russia, the agency said.

The Hungarian bank was added to the blacklist in May because of the “position of the bank’s management to continue operations in Russia.” The “war sponsors” list was created in the aftermath of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 in an attempt to deter companies from maintaining their operations in Russia.

“The agency hopes that this decision will lead to Hungary’s unblocking of €500 million of vital EU military aid for the Ukrainian people,” the agency said.

Budapest previously said it would object to funding military aid to Ukraine as long as the OTP Bank features on the “war sponsors” list. “We cannot negotiate about new financial [European Peace Facility] commitment before OTP is solved,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in July. 

The NACP also suspended the “war sponsor” status of five Greek shipping companies — Dynacom Tankers Management, Delta Tankers, Thenamaris Ships Management, Minerva Marine, TMC Tankers — saying it hoped the move will “eliminate the possibility of Greece blocking the future EU sanctions package aimed at reducing Russia’s ability to continue the war.”

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Friday expressed doubts over Ukrainian membership to the EU. “We don’t know how big the territory of this country is, as the war is still ongoing, we don’t know how big its population is as they are fleeing,” Orban declared. “To admit a country to the EU without knowing its parameters, this would be unprecedented.”

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