Szijjártó tells lawmakers Hungary won't vote for latest EU sanctions

EU

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó

Photo by kormany.hu/Gergely Botár

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó told lawmakers in parliament on Monday that Hungary will not vote for the European Commission's latest package of sanctions against Russia because the measures "create problems for the country without presenting solutions", according to a report by state news wire MTI.

Reiterating the position voiced by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in a weekly radio interview on Friday, Szijjártó said the latest sanctions package would be "like dropping a nuclear bomb on the Hungarian economy", ruining its stable energy supply and making it "impossible" to get the crude necessary for the economy to function.

He noted that Hungary had supported all five sanctions packages tabled by Brussels so far, but said ensuring Hungary's secure energy supply is "a red line". The security of that supply is determined by Hungary's geographical location and the way it takes delivery from oil and gas fields, he added.

Landlocked Hungary gets its crude and gas via pipelines, and almost two-thirds of its oil comes from Russia, he said. Accepting the EC's proposal on the oil embargo would raise prices at the pump to HUF 700/liter for gasoline and HUF 800/liter for diesel, while refitting the country's main refinery to take crude from other sources would take "at least five years", he added.

Szijjártó said EU heads of state and government had earlier agreed to weigh member states' divergent means of energy supply when taking decisions, but this consensus was violated by the EC's latest proposal to phase in an embargo on Russian crude.

From the start, Hungary's position on the war has been clear: to achieve peace as soon as possible, he said. That's why it supports all diplomatic efforts that could lead to a negotiated end to the war, he added.

Hungarians can't be made to pay the price of the war, he told MPs. 

"We condemn Russia's military aggression against Ukraine. We stand by the sovereignty of Ukraine, and we are undertaking a humanitarian campaign on an unprecedented scale," he added.

He said the number of refugees from the war in Ukraine who have arrived in Hungary is "close to 700,000".

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