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Hungary: Viktor Orban pledges to keep relations with Russia

February 19, 2023

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said cutting off relations with Russia would not be in the country's national interest. Hungary is heavily reliant on Russia for its energy needs.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban gives yearly state of the nation address in Budapest
Viktor Orban's hour-long state of the nation address focused mostly on the war in UkraineImage: Denes Erdos/AP/picture alliance

Going against the European Union's resolution of maintaining a united front against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban vowed to maintain relations with Moscow.

"We will keep our economic relations with Russia, and this is what we propose to our allies as well," Orban said during an annual state of the nation address in Budapest on Saturday.

Orban, a right-wing nationalist leader, said that "the Hungarian government does not consider the suggestion that Russia is a threat to the security of Hungary or Europe to be realistic."

Orban's hour-long address, under the slogan ''Peace and Security,'' focused mostly on the Russia's invasion of Ukraine which is going to mark its one-year anniversary on February 24.

Hungary's ties with Russia

While speaking of the war, Orban stressed Hungary's relationship with Russia. He said that even if Hungary has provided relief aid to Ukraine and refuge to Ukrainians fleeing the war, it ''does not mean doing away with our relationships with Russia, because that would be contrary to our national interests.''

Hungary is heavily dependent on Russia for meeting its energy requirements.

In the past decade, Hungary has forged strong economic and diplomatic ties with Russia under Orban's leadership. It has also secured major agreements on oil, gas and nuclear fuel with Russia.

Tug of war between EU and Hungary

During his address, Orban also accused the European Union of prolonging Russia's war in Ukraine.

Hungary's PM Orban personally accused of corruption: DW's Terri Schultz

Instead of brokering peace through negotiations, he believes the EU worsened the situation by sanctioning Russia and supplying Ukraine with weapons.

''When Russia launched its attack, the West didn't isolate the conflict but elevated it to a pan-European level,'' he said.

The EU has criticized Orban's government for overseeing the steady erosion of democratic institutions.

In the latest dispute, the EU has blocked billions of euros in funds for Hungary over anti-corruption reforms.

mf/wd (AFP, AP, Reuters)