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Hungary’s Orbán Vows To Maintain Russia Ties

“We will keep our economic relations with Russia, and this is what we propose to our allies as well,” Orbán said in his annual state-of-the-nation address.

“The Hungarian government does not consider the suggestion that Russia is a threat to the security of Hungary or Europe to be realistic,” he added.

Instead, he said, Europe was “on the verge of drifting into war… In fact, it is already at an indirect war with Russia,” he said.

“We have only one choice left: to stay out of the war. This won’t be easy as a member of NATO and EU, because there, everyone else is for the war,” he alleged.

“We must honestly face the fact that the war will become more savage and cruel,” he added.

Since the start of the invasion of neighbouring Ukraine last year, Hungary has trod an ambiguous path on the war, with Orbán condemning Russian aggression while refusing to criticise Russian President Vladimir Putin by name.

Orbán, who nursed close ties with Putin before the war, has also refused to send weapons to Ukraine as other EU members have done, instead calling for an immediate ceasefire and peace talks.

Instead, he has blamed EU sanctions against Russia for causing sky-high inflation in Hungary, which reached an EU-high of almost 26% in January.

He promised to fight inflation, saying it is like a “tiger” which “will eat you up” if you don’t kill it.

At odds with Brussels

Orbán, who has governed the central European country since 2010, has often been at odds with Brussels.

In the latest tussle, the EU has blocked billions of euros in funds for Hungary as it insists on anti-corruption reforms.

Hungary must bolster the independence of its judiciary “very soon” to stand a realistic chance of getting any of the €15.4 billion envisaged for Budapest from the European Union’s COVID recovery stimulus, a senior EU official said on Friday (17 February).

“They will have to adopt laws, which will strengthen the position of the judges, which will strengthen the anti-corruption actions,” Věra Jourová, a deputy head of the European Commission, said after a Hungarian delegation held talks at the Brussels-based EU executive this week.

In his state of the nation speech on Saturday, Orbán said EU sanctions against Russia were an example of wrong policies pushed by the Commission.

“Instead of help, we only get new and new sanctions from Brussels. The Brussels bureaucracy, with a deliberate ill will, did not give Hungary and Poland the share from the European recovery programme that we are entitled to,” he said.

“They are nitpicking about the state of rule of law in Hungary.”

The EU Commission has put an end-year deadline on accessing the COVID funds, though several countries have already said they need more time to spend the large emergency aid package.

Source: Euractiv

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