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Hungary Objects to a Clause in EU Sanctions Package

Péter Cseresnyés 2022.06.02.

Hungary has raised an objection regarding the EU’s sixth package of sanctions against Russia. This time, Hungary did not object to the embargo on Russian oil, but rather to the inclusion of Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Orthodox Church on an EU visa ban and asset-freeze list over his firm support of Vladimir Putin.

On Wednesday, after EU ambassadors met in Brussels to finalize the sixth package of sanctions against Russia, the Hungarian government indicated that it would like Patriarch Kirill’s name removed from the list. Since then, the whole process of adopting the package has been suspended.

Orbán: Hungary Rejects the Sanctioning of Russian or Other Church Leaders
Orbán: Hungary Rejects the Sanctioning of Russian or Other Church Leaders

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Budapest on Thursday.Continue reading

The Hungarian government had previously made it clear that it would not support the inclusion of church dignitaries on the list of sanctions, as this would also affect the religious freedom of communities in Hungary, considered sacrosanct.

Recently, Tristan Azbej, the state secretary for aiding persecuted Christians, said that whereas Hungary condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine and supported various sanctions, Hungary supported brokering peace and “sees counterproductive, nonsensical sanctions as harmful.”

The Russian Orthodox Church has some 160 million members and 40,000 priests worldwide, Azbej noted, adding that the EU’s “crazy” proposal would ban the patriarch from entering the bloc, isolating religious people from their spiritual leader.

The head of the Orthodox Church has been on good terms with the Hungarian government for years. Recently, Patriarch Kirill even sent a letter to Viktor Orbán congratulating him on his re-election as prime minister.

In the letter, the Patriarch praised Hungary’s Premier as “one of the few European politicians” to make “an outstanding effort to uphold Christian values,” and to “strengthen public morality and the institution of the traditional family.”

In the featured photo: Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. Photo by Oleg Varov/EPA/MTI

 


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