The Central European state has been able to reopen its economy thanks to a “very successful” vaccination campaign that included the Russian-made jab, Szijjarto told RT on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
“I’m happy to see life coming back to Russia, and if you come to Hungary you will see that this is basically a similar situation,” the diplomat said, noting that Sputnik V “had a role” in returning things to normal back home.
Most of the 2 million doses that Hungary received from Russia have already been administered, according to Szijjarto.
Budapest began using Sputnik V in February, choosing not to wait for the green light from the European Medicines Agency. The decision led to criticism from Brussels, which claimed Hungary was complicating the bloc’s efforts to coordinate vaccination roll-outs.
According to Szijjarto, Hungary has proven the skeptics wrong and demonstrated that deploying Sputnik V was the right move.
“You cannot imagine the attacks we have received for making this decision, but at the end of the day, it paid off. And now everybody sees that we have really made the right decision,” he said, adding that it was unfortunate that Brussels got caught up in politics while responding to the health crisis.
“The European Commission made a big mistake at the very beginning by considering vaccines as if they were issues of ideology or geopolitics.”
The EU should have been more proactive about acquiring vaccines, Szijjarto argued, while stressing that all shots needed to be properly screened before receiving emergency use authorization.
Hungarian experts conducted a “thorough and long procedure” before approving Sputnik V, the foreign minister said, and the Russian jab was not deployed in a “blind” way.
While acknowledging strains in the EU’s relationship with Russia, the Hungarian diplomat made the case that both parties would benefit from closer cooperation, and that the pandemic provides an “opportunity” to bolster bilateral relations between the bloc and Moscow.
Hungary has the highest rate of COVID-19 vaccination in the European Union.
More than 60% of adults in the country have now been jabbed, according to Szijjarto.
The country has deployed several shots that received emergency approval from EU regulators, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, as well as drugs that were independently authorized by Budapest, like Sputnik V and China’s Sinopharm.