Hungary's Orban says EU summit should not discuss oil sanctions next week

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: European Council President Charles Michel shakes hands with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban before their meeting at the European Council headquarters in Brussels

BUDAPEST (Reuters) -The EU's proposed new sanctions against Russia, including an oil embargo, should not be discussed at next week's summit of the bloc's leaders, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a letter to the President of the European Council.

In the letter, dated May 23rd and obtained by Reuters, Orban said it was unlikely a solution could be found by then, and that Hungary was not in a position to agree to the proposed EU sanctions until all outstanding issues are resolved.

The European Commission this month proposed new sanctions against Russia but they require the unanimous support of all 27 EU member states and Hungary has blocked them.

Orban reiterated his stance that "solutions must come before sanctions".

"Looking at the gravity of the issues still open, it is very unlikely that a comprehensive solution could be found before the special meeting of the European Council on 30-31 May," he said.

"I am convinced that discussing the sanctions package at the level of leaders in the absence of a consensus would be counterproductive."

Hungary, which is heavily dependent on Russian oil, has saidit would need about 750 million euros in short-term investments to upgrade refineries and expand a pipeline bringing oil from Croatia. It also said the longer-term conversion of its economy awayfrom Russian oil could cost as much as 15-18 billion euros.The Commission last week offered up to 2 billion euros insupport to countries that are land-locked and reliant on Russiansupply - Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. They havealso been offered a longer transition period.

But Orban said there had been "encouraging signals" from the European Commission that the EU's REPowerEU Plan would provide a satisfactory solution to Hungary's problems, but added that "the plan presented on 18 May fails to specifically and comprehensively address the serious concerns we have raised."

Hungary remains committed to continuing the talks, he said.

An oil embargo, already imposed by the United States and Britain, is widely seen as the best way to reduce Russian income for its war in Ukraine. The EU has banned Russian coal.

(Reporting by Krisztina Than and Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Jan Harvey and Gareth Jones)

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting