Hungary launches national survey to decide on Russian sanctions
Although the poll has no legal implications, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's right-wing government has since 2015 resorted to these questionnaires to gain legitimacy for its positions against the EU and its draconian policies.
Hungary launched on Friday a nationwide survey to ask its citizens to agree or disagree with the government's opposition to EU sanctions against Russia.
The survey is published on the government's Facebook page and is comprised of seven questions. A statement on the Facebook page reads: "We believe that the sanctions are destroying us."
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is well-known for his opposition to Russian sanctions, said they were causing more harm to Europe than to Russia. This is evidenced by the current energy crisis and the surges in prices.
It is worth noting that Hungary is heavily reliant on Moscow for energy, receiving roughly 80% of its gas from Gazprom.
Since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, Budapest managed to secure an exemption from the EU to continue its purchase of Russian gas.
With expectations that the situation would backfire heavily on the EU, Budapest bought considerable amounts of crude oil despite that inflation has recently begun to be felt.
It is no help to #Ukraine if the European economy goes bankrupt. We are threatened by years of recession due to a primitive and ineffective sanctions regime. A hike in European unemployment will not help. We must aid Ukraine in a way that does not lead to our own defeat.— Orbán Viktor (@PM_ViktorOrban) October 13, 2022
Read more: Hungary's stance on Russia could expel it from EU: Czech FM
Earlier on Friday, Orban called out on "the European elite" for deciding on the fate of EU member countries.
On September 16, Hungary was coerced into joining anti-Russian sanctions because the EU was threatening to cut funds to Hungary over alleged signs of corruption and a poor record in human rights.
"We always ask people the most important questions... have always tried to create a national consensus on certain issues," he said during an interview in reference to the poll.
Although the poll has no legal implications, Orban's right-wing government has since 2015 resorted to these questionnaires to gain legitimacy for its positions against the EU and its draconian policies.
The upcoming questionnaire, titled "About the Brussels Sanctions," will be sent out to all Hungarian households, and respondents will have to submit their answers back by December 9.
Among the questions is one on the potential sanctioning of Russian gas supplies imposed by "Brussels leaders" that would "put at risk household heating and the European economy's ability to operate."
Another question concerns the impact of sanctions on food prices and related costs of living, as well as inflation which increases "the risk of starvation in developing countries" and "leads to increasing migration pressure" on Europe's borders.
Read more: Hungary will not support sanctions against Russian energy sector: FM
On September 18, the EU Commission recommended freezing billions of euros meant for Hungary over allegations of Budapest violating rule-of-law. However, the government's proposals for actions that would fix the domestic situation could help Hungary dodge sanctions.
"The Commission proposes a suspension of 65% of the commitments for three operational programs under cohesion policy, amounting to an estimated 7.5 billion euros [$7.5 billion]," Budget and Administration Commissioner Johannes Hahn told reporters.
The Council of the European Union has one month to approve the measure that would cost Hungary a third of its funding. The eastern European country is one of the EU's top beneficiaries - second after Poland.
A day later, the EU expressed outrage over Hungary's freezing of Russian assets worth only 3,000 euros, while some other EU member states have frozen "billions".
Yesterday, Hungary struck a deal with Gazprom to postpone payments for Russian gas.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has said about the deal was intended "to improve financial conditions" and that "Gazprom Export’s director general will sign an agreement tomorrow to defer payment [for Russian gas] so that our payment terms will become more favorable."
Read more: Hungary sustains ties with Russia: FM