A left-wing commentator believes Mr Lavrov came to Budapest as part of a Russian endeavour to divide the European Union and NATO, while his pro-government counterpart argues that Hungary has a vested interest in developing trade with Russia.
In Népszava, Róbert Friss puts Mr Lavrov’s visit in the framework of an attempt by Moscow to loosen up the trade sanctions the European Union imposed on Russia in the wake of the annexation of Crimea. He says frustration is mutual, with the Russians fearing encirclement by NATO allies while the Europeans suspect that Russia wants them to loosen their ties with NATO in exchange for good relations. He cautions Budapest against disregarding such western concerns. Friss quotes Bismarck who famously said “Russia is never as strong as it seems, nor as weak as it looks”. The same goes for the Union and for Atlantic solidarity, he warns.
In Magyar Hírlap, on the other hand, Gyula T. Máté writes that Russia has always been a vital market for Hungary’s agriculture and sanctions have caused serious losses for Hungarian farmers. In the meantime, he continues, Ukraine has not become any more democratic and is ruled by the same oligarchs as before. The Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine, he claims, and contrasts the way in which Kosovo was able to leave Serbia with the backing of the West, while Russia was punished over Crimea. Russia is part of Europe, after all, he writes, and an “Eastern opening” represents an opportunity the EU ought to seize in its competition with the United States. “The European Union will be stronger with Russia”, Máté concludes.