Oct 31, 2019 - Zoltán Kovács

Hungary-Russia relations: Don’t believe the negative hype

It’s not what the liberal media would have you believe. It’s about Hungary looking out for its national interest. It’s called diplomacy.

Stirring up political hysteria around President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Budapest, liberal Hungarian and international media outlets would have you believe their conspiracy theories instead of seeing PM Orbán’s meetings with the Russian President for what they really are: Hungary looking out for its own national interest.

Otherwise known as “diplomacy.”

In recent years, annual meetings between Prime Minister Orbán and Russian President Vladimir Putin have become customary for a reason: Both countries have interests in maintaining political and economic relations on the best possible terms and with transparency. For Hungary, good relations with Russia are clearly in our national interest – a fundamental criteria that has guided the Orbán Governments’ policy decisions over the last nine years.

For example, Russia currently supplies around sixty percent of Hungary’s energy needs. Energy security is a core national interest. It’s not the only factor at play, but if it were, it would be good enough reason for tending carefully to that relationship.

The international, liberal media, however, supported by domestic operatives, have been trying hard to sell a different story about these regular Hungary-Russia meetings that is not only absurd but also shows clear symptoms of chronic, incurable hypocrisy. These “activists” peddle their conspiracy theories instead of seeing the Orbán-Putin meeting for what it really is: the government looking out for the Hungarian people and Hungary’s national interest.

Yes, Hungary is a member of the European Union and NATO. But this does not mean that we should refrain from maintaining healthy political and economic relations with Russia, or other countries that fall outside the Euro-Atlantic community. Why? Because, as PM Orbán said yesterday, it is in our country’s interest to regard all international players as potential partners in our success.

Hungary knows well its place and weight in global politics. And Prime Minister Orbán bears that in mind when meeting prominent figures on the international scene, including over the last several months: President Trump, Chancellor Merkel, President Macron, and leaders of neighboring and V4 countries, just to mention a few.

If you listen to the mainstream media narrative, you might think there’s something odd about meeting President Putin. But he is received by many European leaders.

Did you know, for example, that President Putin has met Chancellor Merkel five times in the past four years? Or that President Macron met him twice as often as Prime Minister Orbán – a total of eight meetings – in the same period? And how about the talks that Putin has held with various Italian leaders?

Unsurprisingly, these meetings were not treated as something out of the ordinary nor were they accompanied by the same concern and suspicion. That’s because in those cases, meeting the president of Russia is simply a matter of maintaining relations, perhaps maybe even finding common ground in critical arenas.

Yes, indeed.

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