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Orban tells EU's Michel Hungary's economy would stop without Russian gas

Hungary opposes the EU's energy sector sanctions against Russia, because Hungarian industry would come to a grinding halt without Russian oil and gas, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said at a video conference with European Council President Charles Michel on Wednesday, as part of preparations for an EU summit in France.

Bertalan Havasi, Prime Minister Orban's spokesman, told the Hungarian news agency MTI that Orban emphasized in his conversation with Michel that Hungary condemns Russia's actions in Ukraine, but does not want "to pay the price for it."

"We have to take into account that most of the oil and natural gas imports to Hungary come from Russia, 90% of Hungarian households heat their homes with gas. The prime minister pointed out that the Hungarian economy would stop without gas and oil," he said.

According to the spokesperson, Orban pointed out that "the reverberations of economic sanctions are felt by everyone in Europe, including Hungary."

"Viktor Orban made it clear that the extension of sanctions to the energy sector is going to put a disproportionate burden on people, households and companies," the spokesman said.

Orban recalled that "Hungary is interested in having peace" in Ukraine and has called for ceasing hostilities as soon as possible through negotiations, Havasi said.

Last September, Hungary struck two long-term contract deals with Russia's major gas company Gazprom, which provides for the deliveries of 4.5 billion cubic meters of gas via pipelines in Serbia and Austria, bypassing Ukraine. The agreement is for 15 years and may be reviewed after ten years of its implementation. In addition, Budapest wants to increase gas deliveries through Serbia by one billion cubic meters per year, and this issue was brought up by Orban during his visit to Moscow in early February.

As MTI reported, besides Orban, the prime ministers of Slovakia, Spain and Ireland attended the video conference with Michel. France, which is holding the presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2022, is organizing an informal EU summit in Versailles on Thursday.

[Source: Tass, Vienna, 09Mar22]

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