Orban opposes Russia sanctions
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban criticized European Union’s plans to impose another round of economic sanctions against Russia in response to its intervention in Ukraine, the Hungarian media reported end of March 2014.
“Economic sanctions are in the third round, and it would be fortunate to avoid these because they are not in the interest of Europe, much less Hungary,” Orban was quoted as saying in an interview with business daily Vilaggazdasag March 28.
Hungary is exposed to the effects of sanctions as both its energy security and much of the economy depend on Russia. Russia supplies some 80 percent of Hungary’s natural gas. A recent EUR 10 bln bilateral deal will see Russia’s state nuclear agency Rosatom expanding Hungary’s nuclear plant in Paks. In 2013 Hungary exported merchandise to Russia estimated to be worth EUR 2.55 bln, according to Reuters.
Although recent developments in the Ukraine and the ensuing EU sanctions have not yet affected the Paks nuclear power plant deal in, the energy security issue has been brought up by various EU member countries, especial those of Central and Eastern Europe. Hungary and Slovakia decided to link their gas grids on March 27 as part of EU’s strategy to gain energy independence.
Orban’s critical stance towards EU’s sanctions against Russia is in line with Hungary’s current foreign policy, which was visibly pivoted towards Russia in 2010. This may be detrimental to Orban’s political career. Parliamentary elections will be held on April 6, and while Orban’s Fidesz party is likely to win a majority, Hungarian public opinion is divided on Fidesz’s Eurosceptic and pro-Russian stance.
Photo courtesy of CC-BY Kremlin.ru