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Russian relations in focus

March 9th, 2015

Right-wing columnists commenting on Italian PM Renzi’s talks in Moscow point out that despite economic sanctions and diplomatic disputes, pragmatic Western statesmen are willing to meet President Putin if national interest demands. Thus, they argue, it is only normal that PM Orbán is also trying to maintain good ties with Moscow.

Regardless of what one thinks of Vladimir Putin, a pragmatic politician needs to negotiate even with the Devil if he is the head of such a great power as Russia,”  comments Attila Szabó Palócz in Magyar Hírlap, on Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Moscow visit and three hour long meeting with President Putin. The pro-government columnist points out that although Western powers are threating Russia with even harsher economic sanctions, politicians from the same countries are also trying to broker deals with Vladimir Putin, as required by a sense of Realpolitik. As Hungary is dependent on Russian energy, it is not at all surprising that Viktor Orbán is also trying to maintain a good relationship with the Russian President, Szabó Palócz notes. In an aside, he wonders why the left-wing media which accused Mr Orbán of betraying its European allies do not complain about Matteo Renzi’s visit to Moscow.

In Magyar Nemzet, Gábor Stier believes that there is a clear divide in Europe concerning relations with Russia. While countries following the lead of the US “are hysterically demonizing Russia”, more pragmatic states including Italy, France, Greece, Slovakia and Hungary try to moderate the conflict through negotiations and diplomatic means, Stier believes. Despite their different strategies, he writes, all countries follow their own interests in their relationships with Russia. Stier accuses the Hungarian left of using double standards for not complaining about Renzi’s Moscow visit while they harshly criticized PM Orbán after President Putin’s Budapest trip. Stier remarks however that the Hungarian government ought to show more caution and consistency in foreign affairs – most importantly, it should not weaken its commitment to the Western alliance while maintaining good ties with Russia.

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