Prime Minister Viktor Orbán held talks with Charles Michel, president of the European Council, in a videoconference on Monday in preparation for an extraordinary European Union summit set for May 30-31.
According to information from Orbán’s press office, the talks touched on impacts of the Ukraine war on Europe, with special regard to military concerns, as well as security of energy and food supplies.
At the talks, Orbán voiced his government’s commitment to ensuring Hungary’s energy security, and urged the EU to address Hungary’s concerns about energy supplies before they impose any sanctions on Russian oil imports, according to his press chief.
At first, the Hungarian government refused to support any substantial sanctions against Russia. However, amid growing pressure, it appears more open to do so. Lately it voted in support for the embargo on Russian carbon, and some statements hinted that it is open to an oil embargo too. However, Hungary has set some serious conditions: they would like the EU to make an exemption on pipeline transit shipments. Alternatively, in order for Hungary to modernize its energy infrastructure to satisfy the Commission’s expectations, experts project a 15-18 billion euro investment over the course of 5 years – which is the amount of funds Hungary demands for the measures, according to the Foreign Minister.
In the latest update, European leaders have already begun considering an oil embargo without Hungary – and some of these leaders expressed sharp criticism of Prime Minister Orbán. EP Vice President Katarina Barley has claimed that the only way to “get Orbán to agree to an oil embargo would be to give him a lot of money,” which she said would then be distributed among Orbán’s cronies. Barley additionally explained that in addition to Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Bulgaria would be affected by a potential oil embargo. However, these states are trying to find solutions together with the EU and Hungary alone is using this for its political games and also to channel additional money to Hungary again.
Other leaders have expressed similar views in recent days, saying that the sixth sanctions package should be adopted without Hungary.
Meanwhile, state-owned oil company MOL is reportedly working on possible solutions to make Hungary independent of Russian oil.
featured image via MTI/PM’s Press Office/Cher Benko Vivien