Hungarians paying for Russian gas in roubles a "technical issue"

In an interview with CNN on Friday, Zoltan Kovacs, state secretary for international communication and relations, confirmed that Hungary will not send weapons and troops to Ukraine, arguing that this is the mandate that was given to the government by the Hungarian people.

POLITIKA English 2022. ÁPRILIS 9. 13:22

CNN’s senior international correspondent asked the Hungarian state secretary about the reasons for Hungary’s stance diverging from the EU on this issue. According to Hungary’s state news agency (MTI), Zoltan Kovacs denied that Hungary holds a different view, saying “We are not standing apart, we are standing firmly, one hundred per cent, with NATO and European Union decisions.” The state secretary explained that “the Hungarian people don’t want us to be mingled, or dragged into this war.”

The host asked Mr Kovacs for an explanation on why Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said during his recent international press briefing that Hungary would pay for gas in roubles to Russia, if that’s what Russia requires. “Well, let’s put things right here,” Mr Kovacs said. So far, the EU has no common procurement of gas and oil for European countries. So, as we speak, we still go by and alongside those contracts we have with the Russians regarding gas and oil, he added.

In light of this, the currency we use for payment is simply a technical issue, the state secretary said, stressing that this does not qualify as bypassing – or going around – the international sanctions policy.

“As we well know, the Hungarian economy and the Hungarian population is dependent 85% on Russian gas. It’s not the situation we created, it’s been inherited, without any alternative,” the state secretary explained, adding that there’s “no physical alternative” to Russian gas and oil for the moment, “although we see the very strong rhetoric coming from different corners of Europe and even from Ukraine that we should stop it.”

Mr Kovacs underlined that Hungary stands “hundred per cent (…) with the EU decisions and NATO decisions,” in that – among other things – we look for „peace, whatever it costs,” and regardless of how it is achieved. „Truce truce and peace should come as soon as possible,” he said.