PM Orbán: The EU’s oil sanction proposal is similar to an atomic bomb

The main topics discussed during Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's radio interview this morning were the war in Ukraine and Hungary's energy security, but he also touched upon the formation of the new government.

At the beginning of his Kossuth Rádió interview, PM Orbán stressed that the war poses a direct threat to energy security, and the European Commission’s proposal to impose an embargo on oil imports from Russia should be interpreted in this context.

Referring to the two-day summit of prime ministers, which resulted in the so-called Versailles consensus, he said that the common European position was that only steps that consider the different energy structures of member states should be taken. The Commission has not respected this and has instead come up with its proposal without any consultation, trying to impose a single rule on all countries. He underlined that “with this move, the Commission has disrupted the hard-established European unity, and in war, this has serious consequences.”

Explaining the situation in Hungary, he said that oil can only reach the country through a pipeline and that hundreds of billions of forints would have to be spent on rebuilding our oil refinery system to ensure that supplies could be maintained. “The proposal on the table now creates a Hungarian problem, and there is no plan to solve it,” he said.

The price of oil would also rise significantly, PM Orbán said, adding that the restructuring of Hungary’s energy supply could only be completed in five years, while the war is happening now. He therefore sent the proposal back to Von der Leyen, asking for amendments.

“I do not want to confront the European Union, we are interested in a constructive dialogue,” the prime minister said.

PM Orbán noted that if he had not sent back the proposal, it would have put an end to the public utility price cuts, explaining that there are significant financial calculations behind it. “If the Hungarian issue is not resolved and an oil and gas embargo is introduced, the price cuts will be over,” he said, adding that “the fight I am fighting now is the fight for Hungarian price cuts.”

The proposal would also mean that there would be no fuel in Hungary and no oil-derived derivatives, which are important for industry, he added.

Although the sanctions so far have hurt the European economy more than the Russians, he was willing to say yes to the first five packages of them. However, the prime minister made it clear at the beginning that the energy embargo would be a red line.

This is a Russian-Ukrainian war, not our war, he said, adding that while some countries are taking sides, “we choose a position that is in Hungary’s interests,” and that would be peace. At the same time, we are providing Hungary’s largest humanitarian aid ever to the Ukrainians, he said.

On the issue of transferring arms supplies, the PM said “that would bring trouble on our own heads, especially when the party at war is our neighbor.” Referring to the bombings in Transcarpathia, he warned that anyone who brings weapons into Ukraine is making a target of the people living there, and “for us, Transcarpathia is particularly important.”

On the formation of the new government, PM Orbán said that one of the main challenges for the next four years will be migration pressure; migrants will be arriving in Europe from areas of famine, plus, issues surrounding the pandemic and the war will remain part of our thinking as well. “We need to form a government that can protect the country,” he said.

“I want to significantly reshape the structure of the government,” he said, adding that he hopes to present the members of the new Hungarian government by the end of May.