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EU oil embargo compromise seen as a success for PM Orbán

June 2nd, 2022

Pro-government as well as left-wing and liberal commentators agree that the 6th round of EU sanctions against Russia represents a victory for Prime Minister Orbán. They disagree, however, on whether the agreement serves Hungary’s long-term interests.

Magyar Nemzet’s Gergely Kiss sees the oil embargo deal as a victory for Hungary and Prime Minister Orbán. The pro-government pundit contends that by securing cheap oil, the government can continue to provide Hungarians with cheap energy at a sixty per cent lower price than the EU average.  By insisting that countries that buy Russian oil through the Druzhba pipeline should have the right to opt out, Viktor Orbán did a big favour to Germany, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic as well as Poland, who will also have access to Russian energy, Kiss claims. He goes on to suggest that Hungary would not have achieved all this had the opposition won the April election, and so the victory of the Left would already have tragic consequences. Kiss also believes that countries which do cut off Russian oil will pay a high economic price for their decision. He hopes that the EU will not try to cut off Russian gas too, as this would have even more dire consequences than the oil embargo.

In Népszava, István Marnitz acknowledges that Prime Minister Orbán succeeded in defending the immediate economic interests of Hungary and those of its neighbours which depend on Russian oil. The left-wing commentator, however, thinks that a far better alternative to continuing to do business with the evil President Putin would have been to speed up investment in green energy sources, by which Hungary could also become independent of Russia.

In Telex, Tamás R. Mészáros speculates that the Hungarian government wanted to secure access to cheap Russian oil in order to maintain the energy price cuts and to levy even more surplus tax on the MOL oil company’s ‘extra’ profit. The liberal analyst also thinks that if the embargo slows down growth in Europe, Hungary’s economy will also suffer, despite the opt-out from the oil embargo.

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