Hungary’s Prime Minister has said his country will not back the EU’s new sanctions package, which includes an embargo on oil imports, in its present form. He said Hungary is ready to negotiate if it sees a new proposal that would meet its interests. The EU has been in ongoing talks over a possible embargo on Russian oil as Putin continues to wage a brutal war against Ukraine.
This embargo would form part of the sixth package of sanctions against Russia, aimed at crippling the country’s economy.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she would allow six months for member states to end the use of crude oil, with the deadline extended to eight months for refined oil.
The European Commission would also consider giving Hungary and Slovakia an extra year to stop importing oil, due to their high dependence on Russia crude oil.
Hungary imports up to 60 percent of its oil from Russia.
But Mr Orban has continued to warn the extended 18 month deadline is not enough, as the oil ban requires changes to infrastructure.
Now he has compared stopping imports of Russian oil to Hungary in such a short period of time to dropping an “atomic bomb” on his country’s economy.
He told public broadcaster Kossuth Radio: “The proposal on the table creates a problem and does not pose a solution.
“This is unacceptable from the Hungarian point of view”.
The Hungarian President said his country would need five years and be forced to make huge investments in its refineries and pipelines to be able to transform its current system.
Mr Orban added: “We know exactly what we need.
“First of all we need five years for this whole process to be completed…one or one-and-a-half years is not enough for anything.
He said Hungary would also need vast investment in refineries and the shipping system to allow imports of non-Russian oil.
The Hungarian leader warned approval of the EU’s plan would “be the end of the utility price caps”.
He said prices could reach 700 forints (£1.57) per litre and diesel could cost up to 800 forints (£1.79).
Mr Orban said Hungary is now waiting to see a new proposal from the European Commission.
The Hungarian Prime Minister added: “I don’t want to confront the EU but to cooperate, but this is only possible if they take our interests into account.”
In a further blow to the bloc, Mr Orban said Hungary would not support the blacklisting of the head of the Kremlin-allied Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, as this was an “issue of religious freedom”.
He also reiterated his country’s position not to send any weapons to neighbouring Ukraine.
This is because those shipments would become targets of Russian attacks in the area beyond the border in western Ukraine where ethnic Hungarians live.
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