Hungary proposed to the EU to impose a ban on offshore oil supplies from Russia

The Foreign Ministry believes that this will help find a compromise, since most of the oil from Russia comes to the EU by sea. Hungary depends on Russian oil imports by 60% and does not remove the veto from the sixth package of EU sanctions, it has no access to the sea

Hungary proposed to the EU to impose a ban on offshore oil supplies from Russia

Peter Szijjarto

Hungary has proposed to the European Union to impose an embargo on sea supplies of Russian oil instead of supplies via land routes in order to maintain the normal functioning of the economies of individual countries of the community, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in an interview with Fox News.

“If the European Union <…> wants to punish Russia in the oil issue, then an embargo should be imposed on seaborne oil supplies, because they make up the largest share of Russian oil supplies to Europe, while pipeline supplies are a minority, — he said.

He added that the economies of Russian oil dependent states “will continue to operate” if the EU decides not to extend the embargo on pipeline supplies.

“Besides, then the European Union will achieve its goal”,— concluded the minister.

In the sixth package of sanctions against Russia, which the EU is currently discussing, there is a proposal for an embargo on imports of crude oil from its territory. If the package is approved, Brussels may impose a ban in six months, and restrict the import of Russian oil products from 2023.

Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia did not support the idea of ​​an oil embargo because of their dependence on Russian energy supplies. Then the European Commission gave in and allowed Hungary and Slovakia to import Russian oil until the end of 2024, and the Czech Republic— until June 2024. After that, Bratislava and Prague stopped opposing the ban, but Hungary did not change its position.

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Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in response to criticism of European politicians, explained that Hungary's refusal of Russian oil would be a “nuclear strike”; on its economy. Speaking on Kossuth Radio, he added that the country has no access to the sea and for this reason can receive oil only through the pipeline. “The pipeline to Hungary starts in Russia, <…> this is the reality,»— said the Hungarian prime minister.

Hungary imports 60% of oil and 85% of gas from Russia.

Hungary needs five years to reorient oil refineries and other facilities to process raw materials from non-Russian sources, Orban said at the time. To do this, Budapest will need significant investment, in addition, the cost of oil will increase in the country, which will cause an increase in unemployment. It will also create problems for the implementation of the national program to reduce public utility bills, as it depends on low Russian energy prices, Orban noted. ; its energy infrastructure, which will require from €15 billion to €18 billion additional investments. He later clarified that he would wait for proposals from the European Union. Then the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, visited Budapest, but her meeting with Orban did not bring results. Earlier, the head of the EC claimed that she was able to achieve “progress” on this issue.

As reported by the Euractiv portal, Hungary's removal of the veto from the next package of sanctions in exchange for economic preferences may be the subject of an informal EU summit to be held at the end of May. A European official, on condition of anonymity, told the Financial Times that the EU is going to make a profitable offer to Orban.

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