Summary

Most of the agreements between the Hungarian and Russian governments were rather symbolic. However, it is almost sure that some background agreement has been reached on energy policy concerning gas trade or gas storage facilities. Viktor Orbán's statement notwithstanding claiming that the meeting has secured the long-term gas supply for Hungary, the publicly announced deal had already been known for some time.
The meeting is difficult to communicate to the Hungarian public, as polls indicate low support for the government's Russian orientation and the nuclear deal as well. Furthermore, Putin’s symbolic gesture of visiting the cemeteries of Russian soldiers who died on Hungarian soil during WWII and the suppression of the 1956 revolution is impossible to sell to the Hungarian public, not to mention the right-wing camp, given the anti-communist roots of Fidesz.
The most important benefit for Putin was that he was able to declare that an EU- and NATO-country is highly supportive of Russia. While the fighting in Debaltseve has intensified, putting the fragile Minsk II agreement to risk, Putin could send messages to EU and US leaders about the conflict, with the PM of a member states on his side.
While the Prime Minister tries to minimise the negative impact of the meeting towards the EU and the US (on Friday, Orbán travelled to Ukraine, and he travels to Warsaw right after the visit), this meeting can be highly damaging to Hungary’s reputation in the West. The meeting itself was ignoring the Council of Europe’s conclusions about freezing bilateral meetings between Russia and EU member states. Furthermore, the nuclear deal involves Russian players that have ties to key figures on the sanction list of the EU. And it also raises concerns about Hungary’s dangerous adventures in energy policy: Maros Sefcovic, Commissioner for energy has urged Hungary to involve the EU in the talks over the “Turkish Stream”.
Hungary’s PM Viktor Orbán has been practicing seesaw politics between Russia and the West for years. But immediately after the last two meetings it became obvious that the balance has toppled. The face-to-face meeting between the president of the Russian Federation and the Hungarian PM, and especially the press conference, was much more friendly than the rather frozen Merkel-Orbán visit. While Merkel made several critical remarks about political developments in Hungary, the Putin-Orbán visit was practically a declaration of friendship and alliance in a moment when the EU would like to declare unity in its position towards Russia.
  • Most of the agreements between the Hungarian and Russian governments were rather symbolic. However, it is almost sure that some background agreement has been reached on energy policy concerning gas trade or gas storage facilities. Viktor Orbán's statement notwithstanding claiming that the meeting has secured the long-term gas supply for Hungary, the publicly announced deal had already been known for some time.
  • The meeting is difficult to communicate to the Hungarian public, as polls indicate low support for the government's Russian orientation and the nuclear deal as well. Furthermore, Putin’s symbolic gesture of visiting the cemeteries of Russian soldiers who died on Hungarian soil during WWII and the suppression of the 1956 revolution is impossible to sell to the Hungarian public, not to mention the right-wing camp, given the anti-communist roots of Fidesz.
  • The most important benefit for Putin was that he was able to declare that an EU- and NATO-country is highly supportive of Russia. While the fighting in Debaltseve has intensified, putting the fragile Minsk II agreement to risk, Putin could send messages to EU and US leaders about the conflict, with the PM of a member states on his side.
  • While the Prime Minister tries to minimise the negative impact of the meeting towards the EU and the US (on Friday, Orbán travelled to Ukraine, and he travels to Warsaw right after the visit), this meeting can be highly damaging to Hungary’s reputation in the West. The meeting itself was ignoring the Council of Europe’s conclusions about freezing bilateral meetings between Russia and EU member states. Furthermore, the nuclear deal involves Russian players that have ties to key figures on the sanction list of the EU. And it also raises concerns about Hungary’s dangerous adventures in energy policy: Maros Sefcovic, Commissioner for energy has urged Hungary to involve the EU in the talks over the “Turkish Stream”.
  • Hungary’s PM Viktor Orbán has been practicing seesaw politics between Russia and the West for years. But immediately after the last two meetings it became obvious that the balance has toppled. The face-to-face meeting between the president of the Russian Federation and the Hungarian PM, and especially the press conference, was much more friendly than the rather frozen Merkel-Orbán visit. While Merkel made several critical remarks about political developments in Hungary, the Putin-Orbán visit was practically a declaration of friendship and alliance in a moment when the EU would like to declare unity in its position towards Russia.

 

Read the complete analysis here.