Hungary's Orban Declares War on Brussels’ Russia Sanctions Policy in Closed Door Party Meeting
11:07 GMT 22.09.2022 (Updated: 11:08 GMT 22.09.2022)
© AP Photo / Petr David JosekPrime Minister Viktor Orban delivers a speech during the final electoral rally of his Fidesz party ahead of Sunday's election, in Szekesfehervar, Hungary, Friday, April 1, 2022.
© AP Photo / Petr David Josek
The Hungarian prime minister has spent months criticizing the European Union over its self-harming Russia sanctions policy. Budapest has also refused to allow NATO military equipment to be transferred to Ukraine through Hungary, and repeatedly called for urgent peace negotiations between Moscow and the West to end the security crisis.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban attacked the European Union’s Russia sanctions policy and called for restrictions to be nixed at a closed-door meeting of his ruling Fidesz party on Wednesday, the Magyar Nemzet newspaper has reported.
At a meeting in the Hungarian resort town of Balatonalmadi where policy guidelines were handed out to members of Orban’s ruling parliamentary faction, the prime minister was said to have emphasized that the security crisis in Ukraine has been transformed from a local conflict into a “global economic war” which he expects to last through the remainder of 2022 and into 2023.
“The prime minister emphasized that if sanctions were lifted, [energy] prices would be halved immediately, and inflation would also decrease. Without the sanctions, Europe’s economy would regain strength and avoid a looming recession. According to the party chairman, when these sanctions were imposed on Europe in Brussels at the start of the summer, this is not what the EU bureaucrats promised. They promised that sanctions would hurt Russia, not the European people. Since then, it has become clear that the sanctions are causing more damage to Europe than to Russia,” Magyar Nemzet wrote, paraphrasing Orban’s remarks.
The Hungarian prime minister instructed Fidesz lawmakers to do everything in their power to ensure that Brussels reverses course on its Russia sanctions policy before the end of the year “at the latest.”
Orban also accused “bureaucrats in Brussels and [Hungarian-American billionaire George] Soros’ NGOs” of seeking to bring former Prime Minister and opposition social liberal Democratic Coalition Party leader Ferenc Gyurcsany back to power.
The prime minister stressed that as far as his country was concerned, energy security is not an issue. “There will be enough natural gas, electricity and petroleum,” he said.
Government plans includes subsidies to assist families via reduced utilities, firewood and coal prices, and a 200 billion forint (€493.5 million) program to assist energy-intensive small and medium-sized businesses and other enterprises weather the energy crunch.
Orban has spent months attacking Brussels over its Russia sanctions policy. Earlier this month, the prime minister said that the thousands of sanctions slapped on the EU's eastern neighbor had not not “weakened” Moscow economically, but instead unleashed “severe inflation and energy shortages” which threaten to “bring Europe to its knees.”
Hungary has refused to ape the restrictions against Russia implemented by its allies, and continues to import Russian oil and gas supplies, allowing the country to avoid the worst of the consequences of the restrictions.
In August, amid growing criticisms of Hungary’s independent Russia policy by Budapest's EU partners, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto called on foreign ambassadors to act like diplomats, “not viceroys."
29 August, 14:02 GMT
Last week, the European Commission threatened to slap Budapest with an “erosion of the rule of law” assessment which would threaten to cut Hungary off from up to €7.5 billion in EU financial support assistance on grounds of “corruption.” This week, Hungarian authorities expressed confidence that they would be able to stop the ‘cohesion funds’ cut. Also this week, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced that Warsaw would oppose any EU ‘rule of law’ sanctions against its Visegrad Group allies.