Szijjártó: OTP Removal From 'Sponsors of War' List a 'Step in Right Direction'

Ukraine Crisis

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Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said a decision by Ukraine's National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) to remove OTP Bank, Hungary's biggest commercial lender, from its International Sponsors of War list was "a step in the right direction", fielding questions from journalists on Wednesday, according to a report by state news wire MTI.

With the measure, the NACP "practically acknowledged" that all of its reasons for the lender's inclusion on the list were "groundless", Szijjártó said.

He also said that Hungary expected a "guarantee" that OTP would not be included again on the list for "laughable" reasons. "That's why we've asked the Ukrainian ambassador to bring an NACP delegation to Budapest as soon as possible to negotiate an agreement that can serve as a guarantee that this kind of decision will not be taken in the future," he added.

"If a satisfactory agreement is reached, we must naturally weigh what steps are justified to take on our part," he said.

The NACP had put OTP on the list in the spring because of the lender's exposure in Russia.

OTP said at the time that its inclusion on the list was "completely undeserved" and dismissed a number of "false claims" by the NACP, including ones pointing to the "importance" of OTP for the Russian economy, the lender's "continued activities" in the occupied territories of Donbas and Crimea, its offer of "preferential credit" terms to the Russian military and its "recognition of the existence of the Donetsk and Luhansk 'people's republics'".

Szijjártó earlier called OTP's inclusion on the list "absolutely unfair" and said the measure would pose "obstacles and challenges in terms of cooperation with Ukraine".

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