In a recently adopted resolution, MEPs call for additional punitive measures against Russia, including “an immediate full embargo on Russian imports of oil, coal, nuclear fuel and gas.” Although several parts of the document run counter to the Orbán government’s stance for the EU not to impose energy sanctions on Russia, governing Fidesz MEPs also backed the document. According to the Fidesz representatives, they disagree with the sanctions in the resolution but voted in favor of them to support European unity and Ukraine.
On Thursday, the European Parliament, by an overwhelming majority, adopted a resolution to support Ukraine and condemn Russia.
The resolution calls on the European Council for an immediate full embargo on Russian imports of oil, coal, nuclear fuel, and on gas. The document specifically mentions the immediate termination of the Russian Rosatom investment in Hungary, which refers to the Paks 2 nuclear expansion project. The resolution also supports the deliveries of weapons to Ukraine both individually by Member States but also collectively at an EU level. The text states, among other things, that the EP:
- Reiterates that deliveries of weapons must continue and be stepped up to allow Ukraine to effectively defend itself; reiterates its support for all defensive aid provided to the Ukrainian armed forces offered individually by Member States, and collectively through the European Peace Facility (EPF); welcomes the decision to increase assistance to Ukraine through the EPF by another EUR 500 million, and calls for a further increase in concrete contributions to urgently strengthen Ukraine’s defense capacities, both bilaterally and under the EPF.
- Calls for an immediate full embargo on Russian imports of oil, coal, nuclear fuel, and gas as swiftly as possible.
- Urges the Member States to terminate collaboration with Russian companies on existing and new nuclear projects, including in Finland, Hungary and Bulgaria, where Russian experts can be replaced by Western ones, and to phase out the use of Rosatom services.
The resolution calling for additional punitive measures was adopted with 513 votes to 22, and 19 abstentions. All the MEPs present at the vote from Hungary’s ruling party approved the resolution as well.
The six Fidesz MEPs, therefore, went completely against the sanction policy advocated by Viktor Orbán. The Hungarian Prime Minister campaigned before the election that his government would block sanctions on Russian gas and oil, and that it would continue the Paks 2 project in cooperation with the Russians. He also completely ruled out the possibility for Hungary to send weapons directly to Ukraine, instead accusing the opposition of trying to do just that.
Kinga Gál, who heads the Fidesz delegation in the EP, tried to resolve the contradiction on social media.
In the somewhat confusing Facebook post, Gál wrote that MEPs of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz would vote against a proposal for an embargo on oil, gas, and nuclear fuel imports from Russia. Such a measure would “kill the Hungarian economy” and would make Hungarian families be the ones to pay the price of war, Gál added. She then went on to say that “We stand by Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, we condemn Russian aggression, and therefore in the interest of European unity we will support the EP resolution in the final vote.”
The Fidesz MEP, therefore, basically argued that she disagrees with the sanctions in the resolution, but will vote in favor of them to support European unity and Ukraine.
This is not the first time that Fidesz MEPs have voted for a resolution that contradicts the Hungarian government’s position. Such a case already happened at the beginning of March. In essence, what happened then is what happened now: when Fidesz MEPs voted on what should be included in the final resolution, they voted down the ones on energy sanctions. However, after these amendments passed, the final resolution was backed by Fidesz as well.
Of course, it is important to keep in mind the resolution is not legally binding, therefore neither the EU institutions nor the member states are obliged to implement the proposals it contains. At the same time, in a political sense, the decisions of the directly elected representatives of the EP do have significance.
Featured photo via Kinga Gál’s Facebook page