Budapest (MTI) – Hungarian leftist and liberal opposition parties criticised the government for giving up principled resistance to Russia’s assertion of its interests in the region all for the sake of energy deals and economic cooperation, while Jobbik party slammed it for failing to stand up to the European Union on the issue of sanctions against Russia.
Jobbik party welcomed Putin’s visit but accused Orbán of dishonesty by insisting that the imposition of European Union sanctions against Russia had been out of Hungary’s hands. Jobbik lawmaker Márton Gyöngyösi argued that in Brussels Orbán had continually voted to extend the sanctions, while Jobbik’s standpoint was they were contrary to Hungary’s national interests. Gyöngyösi said the sanctions had caused billions of euros worth of losses to Hungary’s economy, notably in the farming sector.
Hungary and Russia can be friends, the opposition Socialists said on Thursday, commenting on talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. “We must be able to cooperate but on new foundations,” Socialist leader Gyula Molnár told a press conference.
“Opening to the East should not go together with shutting off the West,” Molnár said. If any European state lets Russia too close, it could easily end up like Ukraine, he added.
Commenting on Orbán, he said the same man who “chased the Russians away” 28 years ago was now “letting them return straight to the cash till”.
The world changed in 2016 and 2017 and in this situation it would be the wrong decision and a “sinful step” to break away from the “strong alliance” of the European Union. In recent decades, Hungary has become part of that alliance and “it should continue finding its place in this alliance”, Molnár said.
Opposition Democratic Coalition leader Ferenc Gyurcsány called for Hungary to stand by Europe, “which Russia threatens”, amid the current global political transformation.
Speaking at a press conference after the talks, he said that back in 2007 Orbán had said Hungary could only expect subordination and dependence by turning eastwards.
Political pragmatism should not be confused with abandoning one’s interests and principles, Gyurcsány said. No Russian investment can be large enough for us to ignore Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, he added.
It is not in Hungary’s interest to expand the nuclear power station in Paks and all efforts should be made to stop the expansion plan and maintain the embargo against Russia, Gyurcsány said.
Green opposition LMP said Orbán had “betrayed the nation” all for the sake of gas supplies and perceived or real economic advantages. Peter Ungar, the party’s foreign policy spokesman, said Orbán had represented his own and his circles’ economic interests rather than Hungary’s at Thursday’s talks. He criticised Orbán for what he said was the prime minister’s failure to acknowledge a national interest to stand up for Ukraine’s territorial integrity. He also slammed the prime minister for becoming “totally subservient” to Russia’s interests on energy matters. He insisted that Orbán should have cancelled the agreement on the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant.
The Dialogue Party accused ruling Fidesz and Jobbik of serving Russia’s national interests over those of Hungary. Hungary’s national interests would best be served by reducing or ending Hungary’s dependence on Russian energy supplies, spokesman Bence Tordai told a press conference. The sole purpose of the Russian president’s visit was to prove that he was “welcomed like a king” in an EU and NATO member state and “he has his foot in the door”, Tordai said. He called it a “lie” that Hungary had lost out on 6.5 billion US dollars of exports due to the EU’s sanctions against Russia, arguing that Hungary had only lost out on about a tenth of that.