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EU acquiesces to Orban, removes Russian patriarch from sanctions list

EU acquiesces to Orban, removes Russian patriarch from sanctions list

In order for the final approval of the sixth sanctions package against Russia, the 26 member states had to make one final concession to the Hungarian prime minister today. His patience with his “political games” is running out.

After the tough political agreement European leaders reached on Monday on the sixth sanctions package, everyone assumed that approval of the legal texts on Wednesday would be a mere formality. But this did not include Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

During the meeting of the 27 ambassadors, the Hungarian chief diplomat said Hungary does not want to include Russian Patriarch Kirill in the list of people and organizations whose assets have been frozen and who are not allowed to travel to the European Union.

Kirill is considered a spiritual advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin and has defended Russia’s invasion against “Nazi rule” in Kyiv through thick and thin. That’s why it ended up on the draft list.

frustration and resentment

The Hungarian position causes frustration and resentment among 26 others. According to the French ambassador, who led the meeting, the credibility of the ambassadors and the European Council is at stake. “Urban’s behavior is unacceptable,” Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said on Twitter this morning. He noted that Orban did not raise the Kirill issue at the European summit. That’s why everyone assumed that everything was resolved.

The 27 ambassadors met again this afternoon at 3 pm to break the deadlock. Moments earlier, Orban said through his spokesman that his position on the patriarch “has been known for a long time.” In mid-May, he stated that Kirill was not allowed on the list due to “religious freedom”. Orban turned the tables: At the European summit nobody talked to him about Kirill, so he assumed it was settled.

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Because further delaying the sixth sanctions package was not an option, the other 26 member states decided to capitulate to Orban’s demand.

dangerous game

We have heard that the Hungarian Prime Minister is playing a dangerous game. “There was a great deal of understanding of Hungary’s dependence on Russian oil,” says a European diplomat. For this reason, under the oil embargo, the Russian pipeline that supplies Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia was excluded. But this is the straw that can make the camel overflow. Hungarian political games can have political consequences.

Resentment is evident among Urban’s classic allies in the region, such as Poland and the Czech Republic, who are leading the crackdown on Moscow. “If this continues, there will soon be enough votes for the next phase of the Article 7 proceedings,” one diplomat said. financial times† This measure may lead to a temporary suspension of voting rights in the Councils of Ministers in Hungary, but it has not yet begun because there is no four-fifths majority among member states.

Another European diplomat calls it an exaggeration that it has come this far. “But everyone is tired of it.”