Hungary is demanding further changes to the new EU sanctions package against Russia, once again blocking its entry into force. Specifically, the country is calling for the planned punitive measures against the Russian Orthodox Church leader, Patriarch Kirill, to be abandoned, as several diplomats from the German Press Agency confirmed on Wednesday evening.
It was actually the EU’s plan to finally get the decision-making process for the sixth package of sanctions underway this Wednesday. Earlier on Tuesday night, after weeks of arguments, an agreement was reached at a summit meeting in the dispute over the oil embargo that was also planned. Hungary prevailed that oil deliveries by pipeline are initially exempt from the import ban.
According to the will of the other EU states, Patriarch Kirill should be included on the EU sanctions list because of his support for the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Kirill maintains close contact with President Vladimir Putin and has so far shown himself to be very loyal to the Kremlin.
In his sermons, the 75-year-old repeatedly backed the course of war and recently even claimed that Russia had never attacked another country. The head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, recently canceled a planned meeting with Kirill.
According to diplomats, the planned sanctions against Kirill were not discussed at the EU summit on Monday and Tuesday. However, Orban had already expressed his rejection in a radio interview at the beginning of May. “Hungary will not consent to church leaders being treated in such a manner,” he said at the time. “For reasons of principle, this is an even more important issue than the oil embargo.”
How the dispute could be resolved was initially unclear on Wednesday evening. According to diplomats, further talks and a new attempt at agreement could take place this Thursday on the sidelines of an EU ministerial meeting in Luxembourg.