State Secretary Zoltán Kovács: The compromise agreement reached at the EU summit in Brussels was a triumph of common sense

There is no safe physical alternative for Russian oil shipments, not only up until the end of this year but in the foreseeable future as well, Zoltán Kovács, Hungary’s state secretary for international communications and relations, said on Tuesday in an interview with CNN.

He said that this affects not only Hungary but also landlocked countries in Europe in general, including Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria and Bulgaria. These countries, due to their geographic location and other historic reasons, rely heavily on Russian energy sources.

According to Kovács, this is not a matter of choice nor does it have to do with the politics of the last few years — this is a legacy of the last 30 years. He also pointed out that much has been done in the last 12 years to address unilateral dependency.

On the oil embargo, Zoltán Kovács pointed out that the landlocked countries, including Hungary, have not yet received any assurances or guarantees from the European Commission and other EU member states that their energy supplies will be secure or uninterrupted. Quoting Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the state secretary said that the immediate introduction of an oil embargo would be tantamount to an atomic bomb for the Hungarian economy and households. He said that no responsible politician could support such a move.

Zoltán Kovács underlined that the compromise agreement reached at the EU summit in Brussels was a triumph of common sense.

The state secretary also spoke to BBC Radio, where he said that Hungary will not act as an obstacle to further sanctions against Russia, but they must be based on the recognition that there are limits to what can be done — not only in Hungary but also in many other EU member states.

The EU’s landlocked countries are very dependent on Russian supplies and are not in a position to impose sanctions with immediate effect. “We should not take measures that hurt Europe more than Russia,” he stressed.

He also underlined that no one should ask for sanctions that would destroy Hungary, the Hungarian economy and Hungarian households. This would be both unreasonable and impossible, he said, adding that Hungary could not be forced via threats, blackmail and other forms of pressure to change its position dictated by its own national interests.

Photo credit: Facebook/Kovács Zoltán