Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has hit back at a letter addressed to him by 44 MEPs, which directly accused his government of backing Russia in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
In the letter, dated June 14, MEPs expressed their dismay at the Hungarian government for securing an exemption on the latest energy sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union, claiming that “the exemption for Russian oil pipelines will continue to finance Russia’s war crimes against Ukraine.”
The European lawmakers further lament what they describe to be “the unfortunate prioritization of national economic gain and personal political interests to the detriment of the lives of the Ukrainian people.”
The MEPs included members of the Renew Europe, EPP and S&D groups in the European Parliament.
Orbán responded in a letter on Thursday, dismissing the notion that his government is supporting Russia in its invasion of Ukraine and vowing to continue rejecting proposals that “run counter to common sense and threaten to impoverish Hungarian and European families.”
We condemn the Russian attack on the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine and the violation of the Budapest Convention. We want peace. The armed conflict must end, and the disputes must be settled through negotiation. We also need to help Ukraine and take care of the refugees. So far, almost 800,000 refugees have arrived in Hungary from Ukraine, who have been provided with food, accommodation, and medicine. We are providing education for children and work for adults. Tens of thousands of Hungarians have received refugees into their homes, collected donations, and volunteered. In the meantime, we have sent and continue to send humanitarian aid, donations, food, fuel, and medicine to Ukraine.
The Hungarian prime minister insisted his government had acted consistently with the “consensual principle that the sanctions imposed should not do us more harm than Russia.” Orbán vowed to continue to speak with “sincere words and calm arguments” against proposals that would disproportionately affect the Hungarian economy and its people.
“I am sure that I will find more and more partners among you in this endeavor,” Orbán predicted as the war continues, arguing that ensuring the sustainability of his country’s economy “is not only in the interest of Hungary, but also all of Europe.”
The MEPs targeting Hungary may represent yet another attack directed against the Orbán government, yet Orbán made it clear that he was putting Hungarian households first and many experts already agree that his country’s oil exemption will produce hundreds of millions worth of revenue. While other countries also received an exemption due to their reliance on Russian oil, namely Slovakia and the Czech Republic, MEPs have not yet directed any similar letter to those governments.
However, one notable Orbán critic, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, acknowledged that Orbán was right to carve out an oil embargo exemption for his nation given its reliance on Russian energy.