Budapest could theoretically end up quitting the bloc, Prague’s European affairs minister warns
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin address a press conference. © AFP / Attila Kisbenedek
Hungary’ stance on Russia and the conflict in Ukraine could potentially see it exiting the EU, the Czech European affairs minister has warned.
The EU is “a unity of many voices” that always finds common ground despite any disputes, Mikulas Bek told Cesky Rozhlas Plus radio on Thursday.
“Negotiations are often tough in the EU, and many countries could engage in them. But Hungary, in my opinion, has come a long way, reaching the edge an abyss, and now it has to decide whether to go back from that edge or risk a jump, the consequences of which I don’t even want to speculate on,” the minister said.
On the prospects of Budapest leaving the EU altogether, Bek said it’s theoretically possible.
Budapest has remained relatively neutral since the launch of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine in late February, and refused to send weapons to Kiev unlike many of its neighbors. It has been critical of the EU sanctions against Russia, calling them ill-conceived and self-defeating. Hungary, which is heavily dependent on Russian energy, is exempt from the bloc-wide ban on Russian oil.
The Czech European affairs minister, whose country currently presides over the EU Council, pledged to work hard in the coming months to make sure Hungary stays in line with European policies.
“A small positive sign” was that Budapest backed down on its demand to remove three prominent Russia businessmen – Alisher Usmanov, Pyotr Aven and Viktor Rashnikov – from EU sanctions earlier this week, Mikulas Bek added.