Once again the EU fails because of Viktor Orban. The Hungarian Prime Minister blocks sanctions against the Russian patriarch and Putin confidant Kirill. This is how the German press reacted.

Because of Hungary’s resistance, the EU has initially decided not to impose sanctions on the Russian Orthodox Church leader, Patriarch Kirill. The sixth EU sanctions package, which also includes an extensive oil embargo, was approved on Thursday by representatives of the 27 EU states without the actually planned sanctions against Kirill. Because a unanimous decision was necessary, the other 26 countries could not prevail against Hungary.

Kirill should actually be on the EU sanctions list because of his support for Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. He maintains close contact with President Vladimir Putin and has so far shown himself to be very loyal to the Kremlin.

However, Hungary did not want to accept the sanctions, which include an EU entry ban and financial freezes. Prime Minister Viktor Orban recently justified his stance “with the question of the freedom of belief of Hungarian religious communities”. This is “sacred and inalienable”.

This is how the German press comments on Orban’s EU policy

“Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung”: “Hungary is blocking again. At the beginning of the week, Prime Minister Viktor Orban agreed to an oil embargo when the other heads of state and government agreed to generous exceptions for Hungary. Just a few days later, Orban raised new demands. The planned sanctions against the He does not support the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill. And so the EU is once again paralyzed – in times of war of all things. The aggressor in Moscow has a loyal ally in Budapest in his efforts to drive the EU states apart. It is supreme Time that the EU stopped being fooled by Orban.”

“Badisches Tagblatt” (Baden-Baden): “The submissive devotion of the patriarch to the warlord Vladimir Putin is unbearable. The same goes for the lies with which the prince of the church justifies the unjustifiable. In short: even for someone like Orban there is a solidarity remarkable – even if Kirill and Orban are similar, both of them an illiberal, bigoted despiser of democracy. Now Orban holds his protective hand over the demagogue in bishop’s costume, although he has moved as far as possible from the ten commandments, the values ​​of the Sermon on the Mount and in general everything that should make up the core of the Christian faith.”

“Leipziger Volkszeitung”: “It’s high time that the EU stopped being fooled by Orban. The EU states should impose the oil embargo without Hungary. That would work, even if it documents the disunity of the Union in an embarrassing way But that’s better than having to endure Orban’s constant harassment. Putin’s war against Ukraine may last for many months, if not years – and require painful reactions from the EU. The EU’s economy is under pressure. It will There are debates as to whether it would not be better to persuade Ukraine to make concessions to Putin. That would be a mistake.”

“Münchner Merkur”: “The Hungarians opposed Moscow’s claim to power in 1956. The fact that the president of these then brave Hungarians is now the only one in the EU who is questioning the Ukrainians’ comparable claim to freedom is hard to bear. An explanation for Viktor Orbán’s closeness to Putin is that his concept of an “illiberal democracy” is based on Putin’s autocracy.”

“Tagesspiegel” (Berlin): “The EU is bowing to Orbán. That is a mistake. Europe must find ways of forcing troublemakers who abuse the desire for unity for blackmail maneuvers to act collectively. […] Individual members are increasingly abusing the compulsion to unite as a lever to push through national concerns, even if they have nothing to do with the matter. If this catches on, the organizations become unable to act. They only work if the community benefit is of such high value for all those involved that they make concessions.”

ZDF: “Kirill is an arch-conservative, homophobic Putin friend who even blessed the attack on Ukraine. Why is Orban standing up for the orthodox leader when there are hardly any orthodox Christians in Hungary? He is doing it because the EU And he does it because it fits the picture that he is painting of himself and his country: the Hungarians are the defenders of the Christian Occident.”

“Tagesschau”: “Orban threatens, Orban blocks, Orban demands – and the 26 other EU countries give in. You want to rub your eyes. What on earth is going on in Europe? The Hungarian feels very obviously After his unexpectedly clear election victory in the spring, the prime minister is as invulnerable in Brussels as if he had bathed in dragon’s blood. And at the end of this remarkable week, it actually seems to be the case that Orban can, as always, get his way in Europe. Quite simply, because he’s more power-conscious and ruthless than all the others.”

“Handelsblatt”: “Orban is blocking the sanctions against Kirill and thus showing that he does not care about the unity of the EU. That is annoying – and Brussels should now take action: In any case, the EU has been making decisions for decades that make it clear that they are not supported by all states. […] In the greatest need, the 26 would agree that each individual would issue identical sanctions. It would be a shame. But it would be much better than a single populist in Russia policy to slow down.”

“Süddeutsche Zeitung”: “In doing so, Orbán snubs Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who defended the compromise, and it weakens the global reputation of the EU. However, Orbán does not have to fear any real consequences for this reputation-damaging behavior, because there are none Possibility to kick out an EU member.”

“Wirtschaftswoche”: “Orbán could afford his selfish attitude because he doesn’t have to pay a price for it – just as his anti-democratic course, including the curtailment of press freedom, has no consequences from Brussels. Once admitted to the EU, countries stay there. The The EU simply lacks a mechanism to exclude countries if they violate European values ​​and rules. […] This design flaw should be corrected as a matter of urgency.”