Opinion: Germany and Hungary Oppose Ban on Russian Energy Imports
- 11 Mar 2022 5:58 AM
In separate statements, both Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary and Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany cautioned against extending Western sanctions on Russia to include the energy sector. Any abrupt interruption of Russian gas and oil supplies, they explained, would be too hard for their populations to bear.
Last week, Ukraine’s ambassador to Hungary reproached the Hungarian government for what she described as an exaggerated concern to keeping utility tariffs low.
At the same time, she thanked the Hungarian population for their outpouringof support and solidarity for Ukrainian refugees, and she expressed her appreciation of the government’s decision to join Western sanctions.
In Magyar Nemzet, Zsolt Bayer quotes a statement by German Chancellor Scholz on his decision to continue ‘cooperation with Russia on energy supplies’ and remarks that most left-wing outlets have not even deemed the news worthy of mention.
Whenever similar statements are made by Hungarian officials, he complains, opposition commentators immediately denounce the Prime Minister as ‘Putin’s poodle’. Bayer also dismisses the reproach ofby the Ukrainian ambassador and asks whether she ever complained when the rights of the Hungarian minority in Ukraine were violated, or when they were threatened by far-right organisations there.
Opposing views on gas imports from Russia
A left-wing commentator proposes that Hungarians cut back their consumption of natural gas, to reduce the country’s dependence on Russian supplies. A pro-government columnist accuses the left of betraying the national interest on this issue.
On Wednesday, PM Viktor Orbán reiterated his decision not to follow the United States in cutting oil and gas imports from Russia. He argued that such a step would impose unbearable burdens on Hungarians since Hungary depends on Russian supplies for 85 percent of its gas consumption and 65 percent of its crude oil needs.
In Népszava, István Marnitz lambasts the government for leaving Hungary at the mercy of Russian energy supplies, although it has been repeatedly warned of the dangers of just such unilateral exposure.
He suggests that Hungary should cut back gas consumption (‘without jeopardizing consumers’ comfort’) and increase the use of renewable energy sources. He ends his comment by calling on readers to vote for the opposition in three weeks’ time, lest ‘we become servants of the Moscow dealer’.
Magyar Nemzet’s Tamás Pilhál, by way of contrast, sees the opposition as simply subservient to the United States, by wanting to conform to its policies even when they are not required to do so. Scrapping energy imports from Russia, he argues, would have unavoidable catastrophic consequences on Hungarian households.
He calls opposition front-runner Péter Márki-Zay ‘an American hoover salesman’ who cannot accept that Hungary is maintaining pragmatic and mutually advantageous relations with Russia.
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