Pistorius criticises Hungary for blocking more aid to Ukraine

Brussels (dpa) – German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius has severely criticised the Hungarian government for blocking further aid to Ukraine. He was “somewhat disappointed or irritated by the behaviour of our Hungarian friends”, he said before a meeting with his EU counterparts in Brussels on Tuesday. The background is that Hungary’s largest bank OTP is on a Ukrainian list of supporters of the Russian war of aggression. A Hungarian government spokesman said on Monday that Hungary would refuse new military aid as long as OTP was not removed from the list.

Pistorius stressed that he failed to comprehend the reasons put forward by Hungary. Regarding Budapest’s actions, he said, “This is not a fine move.” In concrete terms, Hungary is currently blocking an increase of the so-called European Peace Facility (EPF). This is a financial instrument through which the EU already supplies weapons and equipment and supports the training of the Ukrainian armed forces. Because of the bank’s listing, Hungary also does not want to agree to another EU sanctions package against Russia at the moment. The main aim of this package is to render circumventing EU sanctions more difficult.

The National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NACP) of Ukraine had put the OTP bank on its list of war sponsors at the beginning of May. The agency justified this by saying that the Russian branch of OTP had continued to be one of the leading banks on the Russian financial services market even after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. By continuing the financial operations of the Russian entity, the OTP Group was clearly showing support for terrorism, NACP said. (May 23)

BiH Prosecutor’s Office indicts more than 1,000 individuals for war crimes

Ljubljana (FENA) – At an EU conference in Ljubljana, dedicated to the fight against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, the Chief of the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milanko Kajganić, presented the work the Special Department for War Crimes had achieved in almost two decades of its existence.

Among other things, it was pointed out that the department brought indictments for serious violations of international human rights law against more than 1,000 accused individuals. On the basis of these indictments, more than 320 defendants had been sentenced so far. More than 3,450 years of prison sentences had been handed down. Testimonies of more than 13,000 witnesses had been heard in the courtrooms, proving the responsibility of the accused for war crimes in all parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The eighth EU Day Against Impunity was organized by the Council of Europe, the European Commission, Eurojust and the EU Network for the Investigation and Prosecution of Genocide, Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes, with the participation of the European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders. (May 23)

Belgian Prime Minister De Croo wants to push pause button on European nature legislation

Brussels (Belga) – Following the example of Flemish Minister for Environment and Energy Zuhal Demir, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo also advocates pressing the “pause button” regarding the European Nature Restoration Act. “At some point you have to make a choice. Is now the time to do everything at the same time?” the Prime Minister said on Flemish television on Tuesday.

De Croo stressed the importance of “not overloading the cart” by tightening the standards on nitrogen, nature restoration and biodiversity in addition to the targets on CO2 emissions. Indeed, he said, that would have two consequences: Firstly, that the industry would no longer be able to keep up and therefore CO2 reduction targets would not be met, and secondly, that we would then risk losing momentum on mitigating climate change.

“And so I ask you to press the pause button,” De Croo said. “Don’t overload the cart with issues that strictly speaking have nothing to do with global warming. The other issues are also important, but we need to phase them better over time.”

In a press release, Demir reacted “surprised” to De Croo’s announcement. “The Belgian federal government’s change of heart is a good thing, but insufficient,” the press release said. “If De Croo really wants to present himself as a great leader, he’d best join French President Emmanuel Macron and myself in pleading for a reality check of the entire European climate policy.”

Sammy Mahdi, President of the Flemish Christian-Democratic party, is pleased with De Croo’s statements. “Back in early May, we and the European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament sent a signal to the European Commission that we simply reject the European Nature Restoration Act as it is currently on the table. We do not support a proposal that would mean the end of farming for many of our Flemish farmers,” Mahdi said. “The European Commission’s plans are good for those who believe in fables of outgrowth, but disastrous for those who care about the welfare of 6.5 million Flemish people,” he added.

The Green party describes De Croo’s statements as “scandalous” and “not covered by the government”. “European agreements are not a scrap of paper,” co-chairs Jeremie Vaneeckhout and Nadia Naji stated. “Nature and climate go hand in hand. Instead of wanting to press a pause button, we just need to speed up.” The French-speaking socialists, on the other hand, accuse De Croo of not respecting the coalition agreement. “If we tell polluting industries that they can keep polluting, it is very bad for the environment and this industry will never adapt. In the end, it will be doomed in 10 years’ time,” said Socialist Party President Paul Magnette.

The ECB will be bold in taking decisions to bring inflation back to 2%

Madrid (Europa Press) – The Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) will bravely tackle the current cycle of interest rate hikes and take the “delicate” decisions necessary to return medium-term inflation rates to 2 percent, a “non-negotiable” level for the institution’s president, Christine Lagarde.

She warned that the closer we get to the end of the hiking cycle, which the institution has not yet reached, the more difficult it becomes to gauge the right moment, pace and level to reach the greatest possible consensus within the Governing Council.

“So I think we are heading for more delicate decisions in the future, but we will be courageous and take the necessary decisions to bring inflation back to 2 percent,” Lagarde said.

Lagarde warned that now was quite a critical moment, because inflation was starting to fall and the effectiveness of the measures became tangible. However, she pointed out that we still needed to have high interest rates and it was time to tighten our belts. (19 May)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Tuesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.