US diplomat tells Hungary to back EU, criticizes PM Orban over Russia stance
A US diplomat visiting Hungary has criticized its PM’s policies towards Russia and stated that he believes Budapest should back the EU in its policy of imposing sanctions on Russia.
On Friday, US Chargé d'Affaires André Goodfriend made the
condemnations of Hungarian of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s
policies, particularly in regards to Hungary’s decision to grant
Russia a contract to expand the Paks nuclear plant and over its
support for the South Stream gas pipeline.
Meanwhile the US denied entry to six Hungarian public officials on Monday in the light of corruption allegations. According to Goodfried, their being banned was related to actions specific to each individual, however, rather than Hungarian politics on the whole.
Goodfried criticized Hungary for how it was veering away from the rule of law which was consolidated after its switch to democracy in 1989 and how it was not a good time to be debating the protection and autonomy of Hungarians in Ukraine.
Orban has been calling for the autonomy of some 200,000 Hungarians who currently reside within Ukrainian borders.
“Particularly with calls for autonomy among Hungarian ethnic nationals in Ukraine… this is not the time to have that discussion,” Goodfriend said.
Hungary should “stand firm with the EU, with EU sanctions” he added and should “understand the sensitivities on the ethnic nationalism question”.
The country has been critical of EU sanctions on Russia. Goodfriend stated that it was not the time for Hungary to “break with its EU partners to criticize so publicly the approach that the partners have taken”.
Hungary, however, is very much dependent on Russian gas supplies and says that the South Stream pipeline would actively aid its energy security.
Earlier in August Orban condemned the EU sanctions against Russia likening them to “shooting oneself in the foot.”
Russia is Hungary’s largest trade partner outside of the EU, with exports worth $3.4 billion in 2013.