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Weeklies on the Ukraine war, sanctions, and the EU

July 11th, 2022

Commentators disagree sharply on what should be done to bring about peace in Ukraine, as well as over the rights and wrongs of the painful sanctions on Russia.

In Demokrata, Gábor Lass predicts that Germany is in for a hard winter, with the likelihood of shortages of gas resources for heating homes and as a raw material for the chemical industry. He finds it tragicomic that Canada has held back repaired turbines which would be indispensable to operate the North Stream gas pipeline at full capacity, because such products are included in the list of sanctions imposed on Russia. In another article in the same weekly, Gábor Stier writes that while drastic sanctions were a surprise for Russia, the West was no less surprised by Russia’s resilience to them. The European Union was also surprised to find that the same sanctions have hit their own community harder than Russia itself, he writes.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Árpád W. Tóta deplores the veto imposed by Hungary on European initiatives supported by all other member countries. (Hungary threatened to veto the sixth sanction package unless it was allowed to continue to import Russian oil, and announced it was not even willing to talk about a ban on Russian gas imports.) Tóta believes that eliminating the principle of unanimity is inevitable if the Union wants to be strong and efficient. The problem is, he continues, that Hungary might veto such a change in procedures. However, the liberal author remarks, the EU now has every reason to trigger Article 7 of the Treaty and thus deprive Hungary of its right to vote.

In Mandiner, on the other hand, Attila Kovács suggests that if debates within the European Union continue to hinge on the rule of law, gender issues, the green agenda and stigmatising those member countries and political forces which disagree with the mainstream, the result may well be a crisis of legitimacy. In fact, he explains, next winter will present a tough challenge for citizens of the European Union who expect their leaders to tackle their everyday problems.

By contrast, in its unsigned editorial, 168 óra strongly disapproves of the scepticism of the Hungarian government towards sanctions and urges immediate peace in Ukraine. In this particular moment, the author argues, immediate peace would be equal to victory for Putin. Would Prime Minister Orbán demand immediate peace if Russian troops were marching through the city of Debrecen? 168 óra asks.

Jelen’s editor, Zoltán Lakner is disheartened to find that the government’s position is supported by a large proportion of the population. Quoting a recent survey, he writes with dismay that 42 percent of respondents agree with the statement that ‘Russia attacked Ukraine in response to an ongoing genocide against local ethnic Russians’. Only slightly more, 45 percent reject that opinion. This explanation of the war was even shared by 40 percent of opposition-leaning respondents, he laments.

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