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Prime Minister Orbán to visit Moscow

January 22nd, 2022

A liberal commentator finds it highly controversial of Prime Minister Orbán to pay a visit to Russian President Putin at a time when relations between NATO and the EU and Moscow are so tense. A pro-government analyst thinks that Hungary can and should take a pragmatic approach to Russia.

Élet és Irodalom’s, Iván Váncsa sees the Hungarian government’s foreign policy as inconsistent and highly contentious. The liberal pundit finds it problematic that Prime Minister Orbán will meet President Putin in Moscow on 1 February to discuss the planned extension of the Paks nuclear plant, the launching of Sputnik vaccine production in Hungary and other business. Váncsa thinks that Prime Minister Orbán’s visit while Russia is threatening to invade Ukraine at any moment sends a very bad signal. Perhaps the Prime Minister should not come back from Moscow, he concludes, ironically. To further strengthen his ties to President Putin, he could apply for asylum in Kyrgyzstan and settle down there as erstwhile Communist dictator Mátyás Rákosi did after losing power.

In Magyar Nemzet, József Horváth, a security expert of the pro-government think tank the Centre for Fundamental Rights contends that Hungary should and is able to maintain a pragmatic relationship with Russia without compromising its basic Western orientation. Horváth acknowledges that Russia’s relationship with NATO and the EU has become tense but finds it very unlikely that Russia will attack Ukraine. He points out that Russia would be hit extremely hard by Western economic sanctions, while Moscow has no real interest in annexing part of Ukraine in the first place. Europe is dependent on Russian energy, he emphasizes, and should also strike a pragmatic tone with the Kremlin. Without strong economic cooperation with Russia, China could further increase its influence in the region, Horváth adds.

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