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Repercussions of the Russian sanctions deal

June 6th, 2022

Commentators on Left and Right ponder the broader implications of Hungary’s opposition to EU sanctions on Russian oil and Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Heti Világgazdaság writes that the 6th Russian sanctions package (see BudaPost June 2) is actually a seriously bad deal for Hungary. The liberal weekly points out that according to the agreement, Hungary must cut off Russian oil ‘as soon as possible’. Heti Világgazdaság claims that the EU agreed to exclude Patriarch Kirill from the sanctions as a trade off for not specifying how long a reprieve Hungary has won to import Russian oil. The author also suggests that the Prime Minister’s defence of Patriarch Kirill has further isolated Hungary in the EU.

In Magyar Hang Szabolcs Szerető believes, by contrast, that the absence of a timeline is a huge victory for Prime Minister Orbán, as he can block any future attempt to specify the date when Hungary cuts off Russian oil. The conservative columnist, however, thinks that Hungary’s contrarian stance and willingness to veto any consensual collective decision that it finds unfavorable is becoming a huge liability for the unity of the EU.

168 Óra in a first page editorial acknowledges that Prime Minister Orbán has won a battle in the EU. But the left-wing weekly wonders if PM Orbán’s veto threat may backfire. If other countries follow his example, they may veto EU proposals that would benefit Hungary, 168 Óra writes. In a passing remark, 168 Óra notes that despite the energy price caps introduced by the government, inflation is still skyrocketing, and the forint is approaching a historical low against the Euro.

In Magyar Narancs, international lawyer Tamás Kende is puzzled by the fact that Hungarians seemed to be much less worried by Russia’s threat to Central and Eastern Europe than the inhabitants of other countries in the region. As for the embargo deal, Kende takes it for granted that further harsh disputes will follow when the EU tries to determine the cut-off point for the Russian oil pipeline to operate. Kende suspects that the EU will introduce new regulations to make sure that the Hungarian MOL oil company does not flush the EU with Russian oil – and make a huge profit on it.

On Azonnali, Gábor Balogh fears that Russia may reduce supply in order to keep oil prices high, if it cannot sell excess oil after the EU decision to ban Russian imports.

In Magyar Nemzet, László Szőcs defends the government’s decision to keep fuel prices down in Hungary, despite Austrian and Croatian criticism. The pro-government commentator dismisses the accusation by the leaders of the two neighboring countries that Hungary is in violation of EU rules by capping the price of fuel for cars registered in Hungary alone, and making foreigners pay the full market price. Szőcs finds it absurd to assume that the Hungarian government should not confine subsidies to Hungarians but should pay equal concern to the needs of Austrian and Croatian citizens as well.

On Látószög blog, András Biró interprets the plan to ban Russian oil completely as a chapter in the further centralization of the EU, on the road towards the creation of a United States of Europe. The pro-government analyst contends that multicultural empires are weaker, as there is no national competition to boost progress. Biró believes that the Brussels leadership wants to erase nations, create an even stronger central bureaucracy and act as a global superpower by imposing its values beyond its borders. He welcomes the determination of the Hungarian government to defend the national interest and resist ‘the EU immigration plan’ as well as the Russian oil embargo.

In Magyar Demokrata, Attila Kovács, an analyst of the pro-government think tank Center for Fundamental Rights sees the EU sanctions against Russia as inefficient and mistaken. While the sanctions do not seem to harm Russia and inevitably do not stop the war, they harm European economies, Kovács contends. The conservative pundit accuses the EU of following ideological considerations rather than putting the interest of Europeans first, while the Hungarian government protects the national interest by resisting the plan to cut off Russian oil.

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