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Hungary-Ukraine: looking back to Moscow and Transcarpathia (part 2)

Author : Bens Capchos Ivan Medynsky

09:54, 25 April 2016
Hungary-Ukraine: looking back to Moscow and Transcarpathia (part 2)

Author : Bens Capchos Ivan Medynsky

Over the past 25 years, Hungarian politicians have never "looked beyond the Carpathians"

09:54, 25 April 2016

Read the original text at Eurointegration.

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Special partner of Moscow

Another risky factor is particular relevance in Hungary in cooperation with Russia.

Related: Hungary-Ukraine. looking back to Moscow and Transcarpathia (part 1)

Hungary is one of the countries that initially actively expressed the negative attitude towards the implementation. On the one hand, Moscow’s counter-sanctions primarily affected the agriculture and food industry, which are the main positions of Hungarian exports to Russia. As a result of these steps, Hungary has suffered significant economic losses (about 4.5 billion dollars).

On the other hand, the Hungarian Government considers that enhanced economic cooperation with Russia (especially in the energy sector) is crucial to restore the competitiveness of the EU and to effectively respond to the challenges of the global economy.

The close relationship of Budapest and Moscow are often the target of criticism both within the country and from Brussels. In particular, visit of Vladimir Putin to Budapest in February 2015 aroused indignation, because the meeting with Viktor Orban was at a time as the most intense fighting around Debaltsevo.

However, despite the skeptical stance, Hungary voted for all three rounds of sanctions.

Obviously, Budapest would not want to continue sanction after June 2016. But the position of Hungary is in agreement with other EU member states, following the lead of its main economic partner - Germany.

Moreover, the relatively pro-Russian course of the Hungarian government has broad popular support. The results of a survey conducted by research company "Medián" in late 2014 showed that if the Hungarians had to choose, they would have bent to the side of the United States (53%) instead of (25%).

The attitude of Hungarian parties towards Ukraine

Over the past 25 years there was a tendency that Hungarian politicians, regardless of their political orientation, barely never "looked beyond the Carpathians." They were not interested in events in Ukraine, as they do not affect the fate of Hungarian community.

It is difficult to determine some Hungarian interest groups that could be seen as friendly to Ukraine.

The ruling party "Fidesz" has always supported the European integration of Ukraine (as it is also the interest of Hungarians living in Carpathian region). It perceived Kyiv as an important trading partner in the framework of the "discovery of the East."

Related: Hungarian MFA believe the debates on lifting off sanctions against Russia are unavoidable

However, the crisis in Ukraine has led to complications of the approach, affecting the main element of the foreign policies, preserving pragmatic economic relations with Russia. That is why "Fidesz" tried to take a cautious stance on the situation in Ukraine, highlighting the damage from the sanctions, which inflict Hungarian and European economy.

The interpretation of the events by "Jobbik" party corresponds with the arguments of the Russian propaganda. In addition, the party is trying to capitalize on issues related to Transcarpathia, and positions itself as the only true defender and Hungarian national interests.

Special party relations with the Kremlin have been the subject of detailed investigation. Over the past few years, leading representatives of the "Jobbik," including the party chairman Gábor Vona, attended numerous events and established close ties with Russian officials.

Shortly before the parliamentary elections in 2014 Béla Kovács, Member of the European Parliament from "Jobbik," who plays a key role in the financial affairs of the party and is responsible for its external relations, was suspected of spying for the EU institutions in favor of the Hungarian General Prosecutor's Office. This case is in the investigation phase after the EU parliament Kovacs stripped of immunity.

Left-wing opposition parties that took part in the creation of social-liberal government 2002-2010 years: MSZP, Demokratikus Koalíció (Democratic Coalition) and Együtt 2014 (Together-2014), had pragmatic and balanced approach to Russia and were guided by economic interests.

Reacting to pro-Russian turn of "Fidesz" in 2010, those parties partially changed position and now pay more attention to the antidemocratic nature of the Putin regime in a public plane.

They believe that Hungary must act with one voice with its Western allies, and therefore criticize skeptical ideas about sanctions and close Orban-Putin cooperation (especially the visit of Russian President to Budapest in February 2015), while condemning the annexation of Crimea and Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Typically, the Democratic coalition Together-2014 tend to advocate more radical and more clearly pro-Ukrainian position on these issues (as Together-2014 organized a demonstration against Russian aggression in September 2014).

The approach of ecological party Lehet Más a Politika (LMP - "Politics can be different ') is not different to the situation in Ukraine. The party has recognized and condemned the aggression of Russia against Ukraine and together with the MSZP, the Democratic coalition and Together-2014, it opposes expanding of "Paks" nuclear power.

Finally, it is worth recalling that in 2011 the Hungarian parliament gave the opportunity to represent national minorities in the highest legislative body in Hungary.

In the elections of 2014 Khortyana Jaroslaw, who previously served as Chairman of the Ukrainian government in Hungary, was elected Speaker of the official Ukrainian national minority living in Hungary.

This post provides an opportunity to lobby Ukrainian interests in the framework of debate and discussion on the agenda.

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