Different attitudes towards the war in Ukraine are emerging among the four Central European countries

Different attitudes towards the war in Ukraine are emerging among the four Central European countries
Different attitudes towards the war in Ukraine are emerging among the four Central European countries

In recent months, the Visegrad Four (V4) bloc — Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary — has been at loggerheads over Hungary’s sluggish support for Ukraine during the Russian invasion. Such policies of the populist government in Budapest have alienated some of its most important allies in the region.

The meeting of the four prime ministers in Košice, Slovakia, will be the first in months. Several previous V4 meetings have been cancelled, such as last week’s cancellation of a parliamentary leaders’ meeting after Czech delegates boycotted it because of Hungary’s close ties to Moscow.

As a result of this boycott, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said he doubted whether Thursday’s summit would take place. At a conference in Budapest last week, he said the group’s dynamics had “significantly changed” as a result of the V4’s “geopolitical split” over the war in Ukraine.

These four countries, which were part of the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War and lived under Soviet domination for several decades of the 20th century, historically do not trust Russia.

Yet at a time when European Union governments, including those in the eastern bloc, have sought to impose sanctions on Moscow and deprive the Russian economy of vital revenue by cutting energy imports, Orban, seen as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest EU ally, has actively opposed the bloc’s sanctions. , banned arms shipments across Hungary’s border with Ukraine and sought additional deals with Moscow on gas, oil and nuclear energy.

In addition, last week V. Orban said that his government would veto 18 billion. EU aid package to Ukraine worth 100,000 euros to help it maintain energy and healthcare institutions, as well as finance salaries and pension schemes.

While summit host Slovakia, which holds the rotating presidency of the V4, has indicated that the meeting will focus less on foreign policy and focus on migration, energy and sustainability, the issue of war will be high on the agenda and could drive a wedge between Orbán and his colleagues.

Hungary is the only NATO member, apart from Turkey, that has not yet ratified the accession of Finland and Sweden to this military alliance. That disappoints some allies, who believe that quickly welcoming Finland and Sweden is a security priority amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Speaking in Helsinki on Sunday, Poland’s right-wing Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that the leaders of the V4 countries will put pressure on V. Orban on Thursday to ratify the accession of these Nordic countries.

Other issues are likely to cause tension in Košice. Officials in most of Hungary’s neighbors reacted angrily to a video Orban posted on Facebook on Sunday in which he wore a scarf with a map of “Greater Hungary,” the historic Hungarian kingdom. The territory of the kingdom was cut in the 1920s, after the First World War.

The foreign ministries of Romania, Austria and Ukraine, whose territories once belonged to the Kingdom of Hungary, accused V. Orbán of irredentism – seeking to recover lost territories. Slovak Foreign Minister Rastislav Kačer called the scarf “ugly”.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala told the Czech news agency ČTK on Wednesday that the V4 leaders will discuss this incident with V. Orban.

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The article is in Lithuanian

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