Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he opposed the European Union (EU) sanctions against Russia for annexing Crimea from Ukraine. He also thinks more sanctions would be a big mistake.
Hungary receives 80% of their natural gas from Russia. Their ambassador to the US was one of four who sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and asked for the US to export more natural gas in case Russia turns off the supply. Hungary relies on Russia for more as well.
Russia is also Hungary’s largest trading partner outside the European Union, with exports worth 2.55 billion euros in 2013.
“Economic sanctions are in the third round and it would be fortunate to avoid these because it is not in the interests of either Europe, or much less Hungary,” Orban was quoted as saying by the business daily Vilaggazdasag.
Hungary signed a deal with Russia worth 10 billion euro for state-owned company Rosatom “to expand Hungary’s Paks nuclear plant.” The United Kingdom is thinking about ending their nuclear agreement with Rosatom, which they signed last September to bring the UK into the nuclear market.
The 11 ex-Communist states, except Poland, have been expressing concerns over the sanctions due to weak economies. Like Hungary, Russia is a huge trading partner outside of the EU to these countries.
“When one quarter of (our) cars, about 250,000, go the Russian Federation, what would be the impact (of sanctions) on the car industry? Catastrophic,” Prime Minister Robert Fico of Slovakia, a big automaker, told reporters last week.
“Why should we make decisions now which would endanger our economy and our people?”
Slovakia’s ambassador to the US was another of the four who sent the letter to Boehner.
Reuters also reported Czech Republic relies on Russians for tourism. Prague, the country’s capital, is a popular spot for Russians and offers “bus excursions with commentary in Russian.” 50,000 jobs are at risk.