At least, this is what Damon Wilson, vice president of the Atlantic Council and head of its international security department, a US-based think tank, believes because the Russian International Investment Bank’s (IIB) headquarters are moving to Budapest. He was here at a conference organised by the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade for the foundation of NATO.
As we reported before, IIB’s management board decided last year about the move because – according to them – Hungary had been one of the most stable states of the region for years. Finance minister Mihály Varga then told the press that the bank had been active on the Hungarian market before, but now, it would increase the financial resources available to Hungarian businesses. Furthermore, Budapest may become
one of the most significant financial centres
of the Central and Eastern European region. Opposition parties see the government’s decision as letting Putin’s “Trojan horse” into the European Union since IIB will be exempt from any financial investigations, registration with authorities, reporting standards, taxes, duties, export-import restrictions and all legal procedures carried out by the Hungarian judiciary. Moreover, the Hungarian authorities will only be able to enter its building with the bank’s explicit consent, and the bank’s staff will enjoy full diplomatic immunity in Hungary.
Damon Wilson, who worked for NATO and for the US National Security Council before, said that in this regard, Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to extend his influence not only in the former Soviet republics but also in the former member states of the Warsaw Pact in the last ten years. He added that
“the level of Russian espionage is very high
in some of our ally countries, and the appearance of the Russian Investment Bank is worrying in Budapest, too.” This is because the bank – he explained – not only has a history in banking but also in espionage – Index reported. “We must have a very honest conversation about this issue with our allies to protect our common values and interests which are deeper in NATO than just the military alliance.”
Talking about the enlargement of NATO, he said that it was a mistake that – due to German objections – they did not invite Ukraine and Georgia to the 2008 Bucharest summit because the Russian president utilised their hesitation and invaded Georgia, occupied the Crimean peninsula, and appeared in Donetsk and Luhansk later. However, the process did not stop, and
they want Ukraine to be part of the alliance.
According to him, the language law accepted by the parliament of Kiev can be solved quickly by exempting the official languages of the EU. But Hungary’s critics towards Kiev on the language and education act play in Moscow’s hands – he added. He also said that, interestingly, Washington did not want, for example, Hungary to join NATO, but Budapest was steadfast and convinced them.
About US President Donald Trump, he said that he was a showman and a businessman, so he likes to create a dramatic atmosphere, for example, in the question of NATO. But former President Barack Obama also talked about how Europeans should do more for protection, and this problem is present in the USA. According to him,
the USA does not want to bring more power to Europe.
In fact, Washington would like to concentrate on the Islamic State or on Syria instead. However, Moscow tries to undermine NATO and the EU. “Corruption, intimidation, espionage, abduction, murder is present in our area, so we need to make sure that our allies are important to their country” – he cleared.
Featured image: PM Viktor Orban and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing. Source: facebook.com/pg/orbanviktor