Hungary won’t get on board with the European Union’s plan to ban Russian oil imports in its current form because it is “against Hungarian national energy security,” according to the spokesperson for the prime minister.
“The proposal on behalf of Brussels is suggesting that it should be done by the end of next year. The shortest period — we’ve been clear on that, our oil companies have been clear on that — is three to five years,” Zoltan Kovacs, spokesperson to Prime Minister Viktor Orban, told CNN’s Eleni Giokos Wednesday. “The very essence of decision-making in Europe is consensus … We maintain and we’ve been telling Brussels and all the European states, that on Hungary’s behalf, it simply cannot be done as they require.”
The European Union is proposing to ban all oil imports from Russia by the end of the year and remove the country’s biggest bank, Sberbank, from the SWIFT international payments network. In a sign of possible discord among EU member states following the announcement on proposals, Kovacs tweeted that Hungary —which heavily depends on Russian oil imports — does not see how an oil embargo transition would be manageable.
Kovacs confirmed in Wednesday’s interview that tension exists between the European Union, Hungary and Slovakia, another country heavily reliant on Russian oil. He told CNN that the differences have “nothing to do with emotions, political like or dislike.”
“We haven’t received much assistance on behalf of the European Union so far, beyond the energy terminal in Croatia. So simply neither resources nor capacity, nor alternative resources, are available for Hungary for the moment and for the foreseeable future,” he added.
When pressed on any energy alternatives Hungary may have at its disposal, Kovacs said that “it’s a matter of hard physical fact on the ground.”
“Hungary is a landlocked country. We have inherited a one-sided dependence on Russia after the fall of communism.”
Kovacs also strenuously denied reports that long-serving leader Orban has the ear of Russian President Vladimir Putin and was pre-warned of the invasion of Ukraine. Hungary has “received information and intelligence with the same pace and the same time as other NATO allies,” he said.