The President of Russia Vladimir Putin at the invitation of Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban arrived in Budapest. The two leaders have tried to show how important a relationship of trust. Viktor Orban has repeatedly criticized the anti-Russian EU sanctions. However, Hungary, as a member of the European Union never tried to resist a single European sanctions policy.
“Thank you for the invitation. It’s certainly not football but also a good sport,” joked Putin in Budapest on the 31st world judo Championships, which was timed to the visit policy. Orban appealed to Putin to “you” and convinced that trying to learn this type of martial arts. Putin, who received seven years ago the diploma of the doctor in the field of judo in South Korea, promised to “talk theory” and recalled that co-authored books on judo.
This agenda of the Russian President in Hungary is not restricted. On the eve of the talks between Putin and Orban, the Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said that the leaders of the two countries are bound by “good relations” and reminded that they will meet for the eighth time. The last time Putin spoke with Orban in early February of this year during his visit to Hungary.
“The fact that Putin visited Budapest for the second time in six months, indicating a positive relationship between the two countries and the two leaders,” writes the Hungarian newspaper Origo. Journalists noted the effectiveness of the current cooperation between Budapest and Moscow. The rapprochement of the two countries, which already maintain a cordial relationship, complicated by the position of the EU towards Russia. Hungary has to take into account the common position of the EU, which considers the maintenance of anti-Russian sanctions the right line of conduct.
Orban has repeatedly publicly criticized economic restrictions that the US and the EU imposed against Russia. However, Hungary never put a veto on the EU’s decision about prolongation of anti-Russian sanctions.
However, Moscow and Budapest there are several points of mutually beneficial cooperation. Most of them relate to fuel and energy sphere. During previous Putin’s visit to Budapest, which took place in February, the two sides discussed signed in 2014, an intergovernmental agreement on construction of the second phase of the NPP “Paks”. The same theme parties further discussed during the may telephone conversation.
Now the Paks NPP operates four nuclear power plant built with the participation of the USSR in 1974-1987. They account for over 42% of all produced in Hungary electricity. Now it is planned the construction of the fifth and sixth blocks. In 2018 to perform the contract will begin engineering company ASE (a division of “Rosatom”).
The total cost of construction is estimated at 12.5 billion euros, while Russia will provide Hungary a state loan in the amount of 10 billion euros. About this Putin said during the February visit.
“12 billion cost of the project, 80% was assumed due to the Russian loan. I informed the Prime Minister about other possible options. We are ready to Finance 100%, but then the terms of the agreement itself needs to be slightly different. Here, too, everything is possible to implement,” — said Putin at a press-conference after the last meeting in Orban.
On Thursday, August 24, Hungarian University of Debrecen has announced that it will reward the Russian President, the title of Civis Honoris Causa (honorary citizen) as a sign of gratitude for the pivotal role that the authorities of Hungary and Russia, conferred upon the University in connection with the construction of the second unit. The UNIVERSITY will train specialists for work at the power plant.
In early July it became known that “Gazprom” and the Hungarian government signed an agreement on gas supplies via the territory of Serbia and Bulgaria. This should be part of the project “Turkish stream.”
Hungary was always very important to maintain energy independence. Russia took into account the national interests of Budapest, which at the time improved the relations between the two countries. When in 2011 (the first year of Orban as Prime Minister) of Hungary bought Surgutneftegaz’s share in the largest Hungarian oil and gas company MOL is slightly more than 21% — Orban said: “It was a tough fight. And now we have made an important step towards a strong Hungary, because no country can be strong if it is fully vulnerable to energy supply”.
Origo writes: since Surgutneftegas has agreed to sell its stake in Russia “well-understood national interest” of Hungary.
As Hungary is one of the few EU countries that maintains with Russia a close relationship, it would be reasonable to assume that Moscow will try to establish relations with Brussels via Budapest. However, according to associate Professor of political theory at MGIMO Kirill Koktysh, one should not exaggerate the role of Hungary in EU.
“To call Hungary “the gateway to the EU” is to overestimate Hungary. She doesn’t have the appropriate weight category at all desire. So here it is about some kind of mediation is not, — says Koktysh. — Another issue is that Orban has always been skeptical regarding the EU’s migration policy and other things. And in this respect his desire to maintain the sovereignty brings the position of Hungary and Russia”.