Europe must not penalize itself because of the Russian-Ukrainian war

It is unfair that the state owes pensioners, Gergely Gulyás, chief of staff to the Prime Minister, mentioned Sunday as part of the pension hike recently announced by the government.

Gulyás announced earlier this week that pensions will rise another 3.9% from July in the face of higher-than-expected inflation, bringing the overall rise in pensions to 8.9%.

Speaking to public broadcaster Kossuth Radio, Gulyás said the government knew inflation would be higher than expected before the outbreak of war in Ukraine.

The 3.9% increase in pensions will make it easier to resolve the difficulties posed by inflation, he said, adding that the increased pension will be paid retroactively from the beginning of the year in one lump sum.

Gulyás declared that the Hungarians should not pay the price of war. This can be avoided “if we can continue to buy our energy at the cheapest possible price”, he added.

The European Union should therefore reverse its previous decisions and not approve sanctions that would prevent member states from importing Russian oil and gas, Gulyás said. Otherwise, Hungary would have to buy this energy at much higher prices, which would make it impossible to maintain household utility price caps and the economy would not be able to function either, he added.

The government aims to preserve the conditions necessary to maintain the utility price cap, Gulyás said, noting that this required Hungary to have access to oil and gas and energy prices to return to normal levels as soon as possible. as possible.

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“We must not adopt sanctions with which we mainly penalize ourselves instead of those we want to punish,” Gulyás said.

The EU has not approved any type of sanctions that would prevent a member state from paying in rubles for Russian gas, Gulyás said, noting that such a transaction between a state and a company is governed by an agreement subject to civil law. Gulyás said that the Hungarian state does not in fact pay for Russian gas in rubles, but has opened an account in euros [with Gazprom Bank] which converts the euros transferred to its account by the Hungarian state into rubles.

“There are nine other countries that use the same payment system, but because today the idea of ​​being a good European also means that the leaders of these countries are not being honest when they talk either on the international scene, or to their own people, the other nine countries will not say that they are doing the same thing,” Gulyás said.

“There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that countries that import raw materials from Russia use exactly the same method to pay for Russian gas,” he said.

He said that since soaring energy prices forced the government to supplement central budget funding, the government should regularly review whether the fuel and staple food price cap could be maintained.

Hungarian oil and gas company MOL is also shouldering a significant burden to ensure the retail price of fuel can be kept at 480 forints (EUR 1.27) per litre, he said.

Photo courtesy of Attila Kovacs/MTI

Mary I. Bruner