Due to the sanctions imposed by the European Union as a result of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, the costs of European energy supplies have greatly increased, and the continent is hit by war inflation. The solution to the tough economic situation that has developed would be to promote the conclusion of peace as soon as possible and to suspend punitive measures, but politicians on the left continue to call for sanctions. They do so even though after the occupation of Crimea in 2014,
The pro-sanctions left would put Hungary in danger
Inflationary pressures and an energy emergency are affecting Europe due to Brussels sanctions in response to the Russian-Ukrainian war. Instead of promoting peace, mitigating, or lifting retaliation, the left is calling for sanctions to be increased and extended, which would further increase the rate of price increase in European countries and put the security of energy supply at ever greater risk. Századvég examined what representatives of the Hungarian left think about the sanctions policy.
Sanctions led to energy inflation instead of peace
the West was able to freeze the armed conflict and start the Minsk peace process without imposing sanctions threatening the energy supply of the European Union.
Based on the experience of recent months, it is easy to see that
maintaining or extending the sanctions policy would lead to a further increase in European energy prices, which have already skyrocketed, and to an increase in inflation,
which would create another difficulty – noticeable in everyday life – for European citizens. As a result, a responsible policy should aim to create the preconditions for peace talks and promote political dialogue between the parties concerned, rather than a sanctions-focused strategy leading to the prolongation of the armed conflict.
The left is in favour of sanctions policy
Demokratikus Koalíció politicians have repeatedly said they support Brussels sanctions that have led to an increase in energy prices.
In a statement issued in February, the party called for cancelling the Paks II project, which allows for affordable domestic energy supplies. In addition, according to Klára Dobrev, shadow prime minister of the left, "as a matter of fact, the Hungarian government is delaying the implementation of sanctions a lot, see [...] the Paks Nuclear Power Plant contract for block two, which could and should be absolutely terminated now". The DK MEP believes that"... we have enough time to see how the sanctions that have been introduced work".
The measures taken against Russia have since proved to have a detrimental effect on Europe's economy, but politicians on the left have consistently stood by them and even urge the introduction of further sanctions. The most recently adopted sixth package of sanctions affected the ban on the import of Russian oil, but the Hungarian government fought for an exemption for the country to continue to provide the necessary oil reserves.
On the other hand, Momentum politicians have repeatedly argued in favour of Hungary denouncing Russian oil.
András Fekete-Győr, leader of Momentum's parliamentary list, said that if they were in power, they would have joined the oil embargo, following the Bulgarian example. The former Momentum leader believes that "sanctions send a message to the world’s would-be dictators that your actions have consequences, you can't do anything with impunity. And the message to us Europeans is that peace comes at a price."
Although energy prices have risen significantly as a result of the sanctions and are threatening the European economy and security of supply, they have not actually led closer to peace talks.
Anna Donáth, former Momentum president and MEP, also supports the punitive measures. Donáth said that "however, the EU's reaction to the war, the sanctions imposed – according to all relevant analyses – work and could crush the Russian economy". However, the politician did not mention that Russia sells its energy carriers in other markets and earns more income than before.
Furthermore, the socialist István Újhelyi also argued in favour of maintaining the sanctions, even if they have a negative impact on security of supply and inflation. In addition, left-wing politician Ákos Hadházy believes that retaliations are an instrument of peace and hurt Russia more than us.
Gergely Karácsony is also among the left-wing politicians in favour of sanctions.
The lord mayor said that "... I am pleased that the sanctions package has been created and that Hungary has not been able to prevent it after all'. Benedek Jávor, Karácsony's party colleague, said as early as March that "we can and should introduce further sanctions against Russia, extending restrictions to areas that have not been touched so far, including energy markets". He added that "the current sanctions are insufficient, there needs to be more extensive and comprehensive economic pressure, which also affects the energy markets". In addition, former Member of Parliament Olivio Kocsis-Cake said on the country's gas procurement that "this resource must be turned off, it must be blocked".
The position of LMP is also noteworthy. According to Péter Ungár, "overheads would not become more expensive if Paks II were not built. ". At the same time, the politician ignores the facts that are in line with the national strategic interests of Hungary in connection with the Paks II investment. In addition, LMP in general has been supporting punitive measures against Russia for years.
It is important to mention that Márton Gyöngyösi, president of Jobbik, also supports the retaliations. In a since-deleted post in May, he considered that there was "complete agreement that economic sanctions are the most effective means of stopping Russian aggression."
Overall, it can be concluded that
the Hungarian left supports sanctions against Russia, even if they have a detrimental effect on European economies, greatly increase the price of energy carriers and inflation, and threaten the security of energy supply for the industry and the population.
The operation of the industry is of paramount importance for the economic performance of European Member States, for the well-being of European societies and for the preservation of jobs. In addition, keeping energy prices under control is essential in order to ensure the standard of living of the population, but the left’s sanctions proposals put these goals at risk.