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Commentators on Hungarian-Russian relations

September 26th, 2018

Analysing the frequent meetings between President Putin of Russia and PM Orbán of Hungary, two researchers independently suggest that both parties seek to promote their national interests rather than sharing joint values.

On parameter.sl, a Hungarian language public affairs website edited in Bratislava, Balázs Jarábik, a non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, dismisses opinions ‘in Germany, France, Poland and the Baltic countries’ which suspect Prime Minister Orbán of building an alliance with President Putin. In his comment on the latest meeting between the two leaders in Moscow last week, he lists a series of conflicts over influence within Hungary’s business world where Mr Orbán firmly defended the Hungarian national interest. There is no ‘value alliance’ between the two sides, he writes. Putin tries to divide the European Union, while Mr Obán seeks economic advantage. (Apparently contradicting the content of the article, the editors run Jarábik’s analysis under the headline ‘Orbán in Putin’s net’.)

In Magyar Idők, Dávid József Szabó, a senior researcher at the pro-government Századvég think tank describes the Prime Minister’s attitude towards Russia as dictated by common sense. Hungary knows that Russia is also a source of potential threat but sees the eastern giant as an indispensable partner as well. Hungary considers its dependence on Russian gas supplies a weakness, Szabó explains, and is working on diversifying its energy resource, including future liquified gas imports through Croatia and promoting solar energy production. The government is not convinced about the usefulness of economic sanctions against Russia, he continues, but in a show her solidarity with the westernalliance, she enforces them despite the substantial damage they inflict on Hungary’s economy.

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