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Sanctions! Consult the People? How Dare He?

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For the second time, the Hungarian government wants the names of four Russian oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin removed from the EU sanctions list. Permanent Representative of Poland to the EU Andrzej Sados called such actions ‘incomprehensible and shameful.’ Moreover, now that the tenth package of sanctions against Russia and Belarus is being actively discussed in the EU, Viktor Orbán is preparing the ground for countering them, writes Wirtualna Polska. 

In social networks, the Hungarian leader boasted of the results of nationwide consultations, during which citizens expressed their attitude towards EU sanctions. 

According to politicians of the popular ruling Fidesz party, consultations are the tool that serves democracy. Experts, however, have no doubt that they are pursuing only their own political goals. The authors of the questions directly linked the sanctions to the increase in food prices, problems with the supply of products and, in general, to the burden on the economy, the portal notes.

‘The fact that 97 per cent of the people who took part in these consultations would oppose sanctions was easy to foresee, it was obvious. Those who support Viktor Orbán take part in them. These are the people who believe that due to anti-Russian sanctions, they have higher inflation, which is now almost 25 per cent. Consultations were needed so that, during the discussion of the tenth package of EU sanctions against Russia, Orbán could say that he does not agree with him, ’explains Dominic Hay, an analyst at the Institute of Europe. 

According to him, this is a well-known method of Orbán back in 2017, when he brought a box of votes with him and placed it on the table during a meeting of the European Council. Then he stressed that this is the voice of the Hungarians who want to stop Brussels. 

’The Hungarian government is using great forces and resources so that society does not support sanctions,’ the expert adds. 

He recalls that after the press secretary of the European Commission distanced himself from the results of the consultation, the Hungarian media were outraged that the opinion of those who voted was not taken into account. 

’For (Ask the People) Fidesz, the turnout itself does not really matter, it was known that there should be a majority against sanctions. Orbán needed some kind of tool to avoid accusations that he is an autocrat, therefore, he shows that this is the will of society, ‘ he emphasizes. 

Dominik Hay says: the essence of the matter is that relations between Hungary and Russia do not worsen. Moreover, he believes that the real number of Hungarians who oppose sanctions hover around 80%. 

’The Hungarians perceive the war in a completely different way than the Poles, there is not a drop of romanticism, no solidarity in terms of additional costs in the current situation. Fidesz believes that EU sanctions and the ongoing war are to blame for everything, that is, Ukraine, which does not give up, does not sit down at the negotiating table, ’explains the expert. 

Viktor Orbán is sure that by imposing all the next sanctions, the EU is too much involved in the Ukrainian crisis, and this does not contribute to peace in any way. Moreover, the Hungarian society itself is not so worried about the fate of the Ukrainians. 

It seems to them that the conflict is unfolding somewhere far away. They are sure that refueling a car and gas is much more expensive today, because ‘the Americans are arming Ukraine and selling more LNG. Regardless of their views, Hungarians feel inflation very strongly.

The expert also draws attention to a significant call by Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó to his Belarusian counterpart, during which he said that all measures that carry the risk of prolonging or escalating the Ukrainian conflict are incompatible with the interests of Hungary. According to the analyst, this is a clear signal that Budapest will oppose further EU sanctions. You can share this story on social media.

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