Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Hungary Threatens to Leave EU… Rejects Pressure from Brussels

01d Sport 29.12.10. Budapest

Them Magyars be feisty and independent folk… tough, too, I hear (these guys are in a heated outdoor pool in the middle of winter in Budapest)… the EU had best watch their step.


EU pressure on the Magyar government engendered anti-European sentiment in the parliament. Euractiv quoted László Kövér, the President of the National Assembly, “Hungary might leave the EU if Brussels tries to dictate to us how to run our country”. Moreover, Kövér said that attempts by Brussels to force specific policies on Hungary looks like what Moscow did prior to 1989. He noted that if the EU continued on such a course, it might force Hungary to make profound changes. However, Kövér said that might only happen in the case of a “nightmare” scenario. This forceful response came after the EU exerted much coercion on Hungary, forcing it to implement problematic policies [in terms of its national interests]. For example, rejecting the “South Stream” gas pipeline put Hungary in a very iffy position if it’s a very cold winter and there’s reduced gas supplies from Russia.

The European Commission used the scenario “Cold Winter” in assessing risk factors and testing the willingness of European countries to cutoff Russian natural gas in winter 2014, for example, a two-week cutoff would cause gas shortages in the range of 10 percent in Central and Western Europe (Austria, Czechia, Germany, Italy, Slovakia), if the European states were to show solidarity in sharing the burden of short supply. If such coöperation doesn’t materialise, Western and Central Europe won’t have any problems, but it’d be much harder on Poland and the Balkans. Balkan countries receive their gas via an older system of pipelines that pass through the Ukraine and Moldova. Therefore, they’re almost 100 percent dependent on Russian gas supplies. In addition, they’re not really part of European gas networks, and the amount of gas in underground storage isn’t enough to last the whole winter.

After Kövér’s statement and the harsh words of Minister-President Viktor Orbán addressed to Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel, who previously said that Germany would do everything “to steer Hungary on the right path”, the media reported that Berlin was preparing plans to place political sanctions against Hungary. Most accounts assumed that this meant that Hungary might face suspension of its voting rights in the EU. However, the German Foreign Office stated that such measures aren’t really under consideration, noting, “Such isn’t in German interests”. On should note that, earlier, Magyar Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó criticised EU policy on sanctions against Russia, raising doubts about their effectiveness in influencing Moscow’s behaviour, at the same time warning that European exports suffered from their effects. Szijjártó exposed disputes between EU member-states as to the efficacy of the sanctions in resolving the Ukrainian conflict. His statement also reflected concerns that sanctions in the style of “an eye for an eye” could reduce the already-weak prospects of economic growth in the bloc. A source close to Orbán said, “These sanctions haven’t led to the result that we’d hoped to achieve in the Ukraine… clearly, the conflict hasn’t de-escalated. Meanwhile, the European economy suffers, and Central Europe suffers the most”.

29 October 2014




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