By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News reporting from Budapest, Hungary
The EU’s European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen could only say that “This evening’s discussion with Prime Minister Viktor Orban was helpful to clarify issues related to sanctions and energy security.”
She added that “We made progress, but further work is needed. I will convene a with regional players to strengthen regional cooperation on oil infrastructure.”
It came as a significant setback for Von der Leyen, who tried to prevent Hungary from vetoing the EU plan to halt oil deliveries from Russia to punish it for its invasion of Ukraine.
She flew to Hungary late Monday for an unscheduled visit that was surrounded by mystery, with authorities saying very little about her whereabouts amid social tensions.
He said the 27-nation EU led by bureaucrats in Brussels “had passed a red line” by planning to halt oil supplies from Russia.
Orbán declined to accept a transition period that would give EU member Hungary till the end of 2024 to adjust to alternative energy sources.
He said that Hungary had no seaports and that the country is therefore heavily dependent on Russian natural gas and oil through a pipeline.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán won a fourth term in office recently in part on a promise to keep energy prices low for households.
The nationalist leader said signing up to the deal would mean unacceptable price hikes for Hungarian families.
Many Hungarians agree. An opinion poll published Monday by the government leaning Századvég Institute showed that 71 percent of Hungarians do not support expanding sanctions against Russia to energy resources.
In addition, some 65 percent had an unfavorable opinion of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in May as against 52 percent in February, the pollsters said.
The survey claimed Zelensky’s popularity had dropped after he and other government officials criticized Hungary over its ongoing purchase of crude oil and natural gas from Russia. Kyiv is also angry that Hungary’s government refuses to send weapons to Ukraine, citing security concerns.
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