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Hungary will not accept the European Union’s plan to ban Russian oil imports in its current form because it goes “against Hungarian national energy security”, according to the prime minister’s spokesman.

“The proposal on behalf of Brussels suggests that this should be done by the end of next year. The shortest period – we have been clear on this, our oil companies have been clear on this – is three to five years,” Zoltan said. Kovacs, spokesman for Prime Minister Viktor Orban, told CNN’s Eleni Giokos on Wednesday. “The very essence of decision-making in Europe is consensus… We maintain and we have said to Brussels and to all European states that in the name of Hungary, this simply cannot be done as they require it.”

The European Union is proposing to ban all oil imports from Russia by the end of the year and to remove the country’s largest bank, Sberbank, from the SWIFT international payments network. In a sign of possible discord among EU member states after the proposals were announced, Kovacs tweeted that Hungary – which relies heavily on Russian oil imports – does not see how an oil embargo transition would be manageable.

Kovacs confirmed in Wednesday’s interview that tensions exist between the European Union, Hungary and Slovakia, another country heavily dependent on Russian oil. He told CNN the differences had “nothing to do with political emotions, likes or dislikes.”

“We haven’t received a lot of help from the European Union so far, beyond the energy terminal in Croatia. So, quite simply, neither resources, nor capacity, nor alternative resources are available for Hungary at the moment and in the foreseeable future,” he said. added.

When pressed on what energy alternatives Hungary might have at their disposal, Kovacs said “it’s a matter of hard physical fact on the ground.”

“Hungary is a landlocked country. We inherited unilateral dependence on Russia after the fall of communism.”

Kovacs also strenuously denied reports that longtime leader Orban had the ear of Russian President Vladimir Putin and was tipped off about the invasion of Ukraine. Hungary “received information and intelligence at the same rate and at the same time as the other NATO allies”, he said.


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