Poland and Hungary are two countries that have had a friendly relationship for centuries, but that bond has frozen due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Orbán does not send weapons to Ukraine and bans others’ shipments from passing through Hungary
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has had good relations with Vladimir Putin for years. For example, last year this good relationship with Russia led Hungary to be the first country in the European Union to buy the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, without waiting for it to have authorization from the European Medicines Agency. Likewise, in September 2020, Orbán criticized the European sanctions on Russia for the invasion of Crimea, sanctions that the Hungarian Prime Minister had already condemned in 2014, stating that it was “shooting oneself in the foot”.
After the invasion of Ukraine, Orbán has found himself at the crossroads of not entering into conflict with Russia and at the same time staying true to his commitments to NATO, an organization of which Hungary has been a member since 1999, along with Poland and the Czech Republic. After years of criticizing them, the Orbán government supported the sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Ukraine, but at the same time refused to send weapons to Ukraine to help in its defense, saying that Hungary should stay out of the conflict. What’s more: Orbán has banned arms shipments from other countries to Ukraine from passing through Hungarian territory.
Poland distances itself from Hungary over its position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine
That position of Orbán has sat very badly in Warsaw. The Polish government has been one of the most committed in the EU in supporting Ukraine, both in supporting sanctions against Russia and in sending weapons to help defend the Ukrainian people against aggression. The first disagreement could be seen on March 15. On that day, on an annual basis, a Peace March is held in Budapest, which usually becomes a massive act starring Orbán. Polish sympathizers usually attend the event, but according to the Hungarian newspaper Telex, this year the Poles have not attended, pointing out that they would allocate the money from the trip to initiatives to support Ukrainian refugees.
A few days later a new disagreement was seen. Every March 23, the Polish-Hungarian Friendship Day is celebrated. This year it was to be celebrated with a visit by the Hungarian president, János Áder, to the Polish city of Bochnia, in what would be one of his last trips as president before his successor, Katalin Nóvak, takes office on May 10. However, the visit was postponed alleging the war, but several media have pointed out that in reality the Polish president, Andrzej Duda, canceled the meeting in rejection of Hungary’s position on the invasion of Ukraine.
Visegrad Group meeting canceled in Budapest
Today the Polish media DoRzeczy.pl points out the last and clear disagreement: “The meeting of the Visegrad Group scheduled for Wednesday will not be held in Budapest. The event was planned a few weeks ago, when Poland’s relations with Hungary were still very good. After the outbreak of the war in Ukraine and the lack of a decisive reaction from Viktor Orban, mutual relations cooled significantly.“ The Visegrad Group is an international association that brings together Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Currently its presidency is held by Hungary. This meeting was going to bring together the defense ministers of the four countries, but those of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have not wanted to go to reject Orbán’s position.
«Jarosław Kaczyński and Mateusz Morawiecki have frozen contacts with Viktor Orbán»
“The best proof of relations with Hungary is the fact that Jarosław Kaczyński and Mateusz Morawiecki have frozen contacts with Viktor Orbán. Hungary is also criticized by Slovakia and the Czech Republic, which means that Budapest may face permanent isolation,” DoRzeczy.pl notes. This Polish media points out that Kaczyński was one of the architects of the Law and Justice alliance with Orbán’s Fidesz party. “But today many things have changed, Orbán has ceased to be a friend,” sources from the ruling party in Poland say.
The repercussions that this will have in the meetings with other parties
One wonders how this will affect the relationship between Law and Justice, Fidesz and other European parties. At the end of January, the Spanish Vox party hosted a meeting in Madrid between those parties and the Marine Le Pen National Rally, among other participants. The meeting closed with the joint signing of a manifesto stating: “Russia’s military actions on the eastern border of Europe have led to the brink of war“. It was an important statement, considering that Orbán and Le Pen have always had friendly relations with Russia. However, Le Pen’s party removed the critical mention of Russia in its publication of the manifesto. The Fidesz website did not mention this criticism of Russia either, and instead published Orbán’s statements “in favor of peace and de-escalation”.
Taking into account the current circumstances, and after Le Pen’s rejection of sanctions against Russia (coinciding in this with Mélenchon’s French far-left) and her opposition to sending weapons to Ukraine, it is very likely that the Law and Justice party will not wants to go to new meetings neither with Orbán nor with Le Pen. Poland is one of the countries that has warned the most against the threat posed by Vladimir Putin to European security. Both the Polish president, Andrzej Duda, and his prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, have incessantly insisted on this, warnings constantly ignored by many other countries. Taking into account that in 2023 there will be parliamentary elections in Poland, Law and Justice will surely choose to avoid any relationship with those who have shown lukewarmness in the face of Russian aggression.
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