BUDAPEST (AFP) – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Tuesday (May 31) hailed the exemption in an EU Russian oil ban that allowed his country to keep receiving cheap crude from Moscow.
After weeks of negotiations between EU and Budapest, bloc leaders late on Monday struck a compromise deal that banned Russian oil imports delivered by tankers, but left in place those received via pipelines – which is how landlocked Hungary gets the Russian crude key to its economy.
“Families can sleep peacefully tonight, we kept out the most hair-raising idea,” Mr Orban said in a video message posted on his Facebook page.
“We have reached an agreement that states that countries that receive oil through pipelines can continue to operate their economies under the previous conditions,” he said.
Mr Orban had threatened to veto the deal and warned that halting supplies would wreck his country’s economy.
A blanket import ban “would have been unbearable for us…like an atomic bomb, but we managed to avoid this,” he said.
Budapest – which under Mr Orban sought close ties to Moscow until the invasion of Ukraine – said banning Russian oil would spark recession, shortages and rocketing prices, and undermine Hungary’s energy security.
Landlocked Hungary receives around 65 per cent of its oil needs via the Russian Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline.
EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said the compromise deal “will effectively cut around 90 per cent of oil imports from Russia to the EU by the end of the year”.