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Poland cools relations with Hungary over Ukraine: report

19.04.2023 23:00
Poland has cooled its relations with Hungary due to Budapest’s stance on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a falling-out that has also affected cooperation within the regional Visegrad Group of Central European countries, according to a Hungarian historian.
Budapest.Jakub Hałun, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Miklós Mitrovics, who has a degree in Polish studies, made the assessment in an article for Hungary’s G7 website earlier this week, Poland’s forsal.pl website reported.  

The Hungarian historian wrote, as quoted by forsal.pl: “The Polish stance regarding Russia is not only understandable, but also consistent. It stems from a considered, long-term, pragmatic foreign and security policy, based on historical experiences, and its correctness has been confirmed by real-life events." 

'Deep understanding of the roots and nature of Russian imperialism'

Mitrovics said that, according to various experts, Poland’s role on the international stage “has without a doubt grown considerably,” following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, forsal.pl reported.

Analysing the causes of this shift, the Hungarian historian pointed to “Poland’s consistent warnings about the threat from the Kremlin, ever since Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia.” 

He added: “Uniquely in Europe, the Poles have an exceptionally deep understanding of the roots and nature of Russian imperialism,” according to forsal.pl. 

Another important factor is “Poland’s support for Kyiv from the first day of the war,” and Warsaw’s position as “the main advocate of supplying Ukraine with state-of-the art heavy weaponry” from NATO, Mitrovics also noted.  

The Hungarian scholar stressed: “For Poland, Ukraine can be a valuable defence zone only if it is a strong state. A permanently weakened Ukraine, partly occupied by Russia and partly an international protectorate, would mean a victory for Russia and would buy the Russians time to prepare for further battles."

Poland’s Ostpolitik 'won the day'

According to Mitrovics, Germany’s eastern policy, “designed to establish a partnership with Russia,” has failed, while Poland’s Ostpolitik, based on “support for the liberation struggles of the nations that had fallen victim to Russian imperialism,” has "won the day," forsal.pl reported. 

Moreover, Poland’s role as the biggest country of the region, “has been strengthened by NATO’s expansion northwards to include Finland,” the Hungarian historian added. 

Poland disappointed with Hungary

Mitrovics wrote that Poland had expected Hungary’s government and society “to side with Ukraine amid the Russian aggression, as firmly as the Poles.”

He added that such a stance “could be inferred from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s remarks during the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, when he was the leader of the opposition."

Instead, “Hungary maintains close relations with the Kremlin,” Orban “has not yet visited Kyiv,” and Budapest “openly criticises European Union sanctions against Russia,” even if it has eventually backed all of them, the historian wrote. 

Moreover, Poland has been critical of Hungary’s “constant lobbying on behalf of certain Russian individuals whom EU countries seek to sanction,” as well as of the fact that Hungary’s foreign minister “on a visit to Minsk refused to defend Polish activist Andrzej Poczobut, who has been sentenced to eight years in prison” by Belarus on trumped-up charges, Mitrovics added.

In addition, the historian wrote, Poland has been put off by Hungary’s “decision to rule out providing weapons to Ukraine” and by the Hungarian parliament’s “delay in ratifying NATO membership of Finland and Sweden,” while Poland’s “close relations” with the United States contrast with Washington’s “highly critical view of Hungary,” as reported by forsal.pl.

According to Mitrovics, there has been “a visible cooling of Polish-Hungarian relations on the political level,” while “the Polish-Hungarian alliance in the EU also appears to have weakened,” and Polish public attitudes towards Hungary “have sunk to a 30-year low,” forsal.pl reported.

The regional Visegrad Group (V4) comprises Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. 

Wednesday is day 420 of Russia’s war on Ukraine. 


Source: forsal.pl, g7.hu