Orbán, von der Leyen talks 'small step forward', but Hungary holds position on sanctions

EU

"Some progress" was made at talks between Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen late Monday, but Hungary is sticking to its position on the EC's latest package of sanctions on Russia as long as concerns over the country's energy supply remain unaddressed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in a post on Facebook.

"We achieved some progress, I could say we took a small step forward, but we still have much to discuss if Hungary is to change its position, if appropriate, as we cannot allow Hungarian people to pay the price for this war," Szijjártó said in a post on Facebook shortly after the meeting.

He said von der Leyen was informed "in detail" of the problems that the proposed sanctions would cause for Hungary. "We asked for these problems to be weighed," he added.

"As long as the European Commission does not offer solutions to these problems, naturally Hungary cannot support this package of sanctions, as in this form, without solutions, the package of sanctions is like dropping a nuclear bomb on the Hungarian economy," he said.

The sanctions, which include a phased-in embargo on Russian oil, would "ruin" the country's energy security by making it "impossible" to acquire the volume of crude necessary for the economy to function, Szijjártó explained.

Landlocked Hungary gets close to two-thirds of its oil from Russia, via pipeline, and the country's main refinery is technically reliant on Russian crude. Government officials have put a price tag of "hundreds of billions of forints" on a switch to alternative sources of supply, and noted that those dearer sources would raise prices at the pump to HUF 700/liter for petrol and HUF 800/liter for diesel. They have also pointed out that such a switch would require "at least five years". 

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