Orbán: EU Planned Sanctions on Russian Oil May Cause Fuel Shortage

  • 7 May 2022 5:24 AM
  • Hungary Matters
Orbán: EU Planned Sanctions on Russian Oil May Cause Fuel Shortage
The EU’s proposal to phase out Russian oil may create a situation where Hungary runs out of fuel and other oil products important for its industry, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán warned in an interview on Friday.

Hungary will not accept such a proposal, he said. At the same time, Hungary will be happy to discuss proposals in line with Hungarian interests, he said.

Revamping Hungary’s energy production and transmission system to oil products other than those from Russia would take up to five years, he said. While the EU has allocated money to funding the developments, “they are yet to give us that money, and we cannot start the works until that arrives”, unless Hungary takes out loans form the market to cover the costs, he said.

“I have sent this back to President [Ursula von der Leyen] to be reworked, we are now waiting for the new proposal,” he said.

Hungary must at least maintain its veto on the issues most important for the country, he said. As a result, he said he had been willing to approve the first five packages of sanctions but made it clear that the energy embargo would be a red line.

They also wanted to put Orthodox leader Patriarch Kirill of Moscow on the sanctions list but “we will not support including church leaders” on the list because that would affect the freedom of religion for Hungarian communities which is “sacred and inviolable”, Orbán said.

Hungary stands for peace and wants the parties in the Ukraine war to agree to a ceasefire and start peace talks as soon as possible, Orbán said.

He noted that he had visited Moscow “in the interest of peace” before the war started in February, as had French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. None of them succeeded, he said.

Hungary must stay out of this war, he said, adding that at the same time, the country was providing record-large humanitarian aid. Hungarian society as a whole has become mobilised, he said.

“Hungarians are now disregarding how Ukrainians used to treat ethnic Hungarians in recent years because currently we only focus on the people that suffer,” he added. Delivering weapons to Ukraine would “distance Hungary from peace … delivering weapons brings trouble on the head of those involved, especially if they are neighbours of the country at war”, he said.

Orbán said that “Transcarpathia has come within striking range” because someone is delivering or planning to deliver weapons and the Russians will target the transport junctions where such trans-shipments travel.

Orbán said that he planned to present members of his new, “significantly reshuffled” government between May 20 and 30. He said considerable changes were planned, “reflecting the many considerable changes in the world”.

Christian Democrat, nationally minded governments usually start work by assessing the challenges of the upcoming four years, Orbán said.

Protection against migration pressure must be boosted, he said. “The [coronavirus] pandemic has not disappeared” and there is a war going on, he added. “We must form a government that is able to protect Hungary,” he said.

Orbán Slams Planned Oil Sanctions on Russia

The European Union's proposal on phasing out imports of Russian crude oil is "unacceptable", Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Friday, adding it was equivalent to "dropping a nuclear bomb on the Hungarian economy".

In a regular interview with public broadcaster Kossuth Rádió, the prime minister said EU member states had agreed earlier that the bloc should only take steps that take into consideration the different energy mixes of member states and their sovereign right to decide on them.

However, the president of the European Commission “either willingly or unwillingly, attacked this hard-fought European unity”, he added.

Orbán said the EU proposal to phase out Russian oil imports was equivalent to “dropping a nuclear bomb on the Hungarian economy”, adding that its approval would “be the end of the utility price caps”.

Petrol prices could reach 700 forints (EUR 1.80) per litre and diesel could cost up to 800 forints, he said.

Replacing Russian oil imports would take years and cost several hundreds of millions of forints, while changes to Hungary’s energy transmission system would cost thousands of billions of forints, he said. At the same time, a costly investment bringing results in 4-5 years may not “make sense” as the root of all problems, the war in Ukraine, “is here now”, he said.

Latest Sanctions Against Russia Not to Affect States Equally, Says Gulyás

The economic impact of the latest sanctions on Russia is a decision the consequences of which can be clearly calculated mathematically, and it will not affect countries equally, the prime minister’s chief of staff told commercial news channel HírTV on Thursday.

“Hungary and Slovakia are in the worst situation,” Gergely Gulyás said, with Hungary relying on Russian crude oil for about two-thirds of its oil consumption. The ratio in Slovakia is even higher, he added.

Under the proposed sanctions, petrol in Hungary would cost 700 forints (EUR 1.8) per litre while diesel would rise to 800 forints, Gulyás said, adding that the security of Hungary’s supplies could not be guaranteed either.

“This is why the government has made it clear that it cannot support any sanctions in this form,” Gulyás said, noting that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán clearly stated Hungary’s position in his letter written to the head of the European Commission on Thursday.

Hungary will keep to the sanctions which were adopted at the EU summit in Versailles in March, Gulyás said, noting that these sanctions do not cover crude or natural gas. “We must adopt sanctions that will hurt those whom we want to punish but not those who otherwise want to punish Russia over the aggression committed against Ukraine more so,” he said.

He said that Bulgaria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic had expressed “serious concern” over energy sanctions. “We need full unity; without that sanctions cannot be adopted, and if the European Commission wants to maintain the unity which emerged because of the war, it must enter into talks,” Gulyás said.

“Hungary can tell exactly how much extra the situation would cost the country compared with other member states, in what aspect is its situation different, and what sort of expenses it would expect Brussels to reimburse, Gulyás said.

MTI / PM's press office photo: Zoltán Fischer

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