Russian ties have impacted the cooperation of the Visegrád Group’s four allies after Hungary vetoed Poland’s suggestion for the V4 to take a harsher stance in counteracting Russian aggression in Czechia, reports Euractive.
V4 countries agreed to make an official statement on Monday condemning a Russian military operation that resulted in the destruction of a Czech ammunition depot in 2014, and Czech authorities subsequently expelling 18 Russian diplomats.
Despite Czechia requesting its allies to do so, Hungary has not expelled its Russian diplomats, and, based on the veto, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán felt that harsher action against Russia was not needed.
Orbán said that Poland’s suggested approach of calling for the cancellation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project and voicing support for Ukraine and Belarus was unacceptable. Thus, the statement made in solidarity with Czechia was shortened.
Together with the prime minister of Czechia we strongly condemn illegal and violent actions carried out by the Russian intelligence operatives. We will not allow these activities to divide Europe. Visegrád Group countries are determined to take measures together with fellow member states of the European Union to reinforce our resilience.”
Orbán also made a Facebook post saying “V4 discussion: we stand in solidarity with the Czech Republic.”
Hungary is the only country in the V4 not to expel Russian diplomats in solidarity with the Czech Republic. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó confirmed Hungary’s stance, emphasizing that the purpose of the V4 is not to put pressure on one-another, but to negotiate.
Everyone naturally had their own viewpoints, since Visegrád cooperation is not based on dictations. Therefore, it is not the case that someone would put something on the table, saying that everyone should accept it, or that someone would pressure the others into stopping a decision. […] We have expressed our solidarity, we are not planning further action for now.”
The impact Hungary’s ties with Russia will have on future EU and V4 cooperation is not set in stone, but it may be put to the test if tensions are heightened even more.
Featured photo illustration by Zoltán Fischer/PM’s Press Office